Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Casa Costello has a new home

Hi there! Just to let you know Casa Costello has moved - I have merged my 2 blogs to make one Family and Cake blog over at

I would love it if you would follow me over there! Thanks so much for reading and all your lovely comments while I have been here.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Big One - Reasons to be Cheerful

This is the week I've been waiting for, the week when I am most cheerful of all - and it doesn't involve going on holiday for once!

Reason to be Cheerful 1: The Christening
Its our little one's big day - She is being baptised on Sunday at our church. The baptism is being held during 11am mass which is very important for us as she is being welcomed into a community that we have been part of for many years.
We are obviously looking forward to the party afterwards (mainly as I will be so relieved that the pressure is off - I had a mad moment a few weeks ago when I decided I would do the catering myself!)
This time we have decided against the posh 'do' instead favouring something relaxed and just enjoying the company of our friends (all 100 of them! Eek!)

Reason to be Cheerful 2: Wonderful Friends
Apart from being so pleased that we have so many lovely people willing to share Baby T's special day with us, I am very grateful for all the offers of help I have had with preparing the food for Sunday. We are expecting a bit of a houseful on Saturday and hope to make a bit of party of food preparation - chinese and wine may be consumed!

Reason to be Cheerful 3:Reading
Vi seems to be settling well into reading now - at first it wasn't something she was that keen on but all of a sudden she's really interested in what letters are in what words - we've got a long way to go but yay! Thank God for teachers - I don't know how home schooling parents have the patience to teach their kids to read!

Update on last week: My friend had a little baby girl, Ruby - at the time of writing I have not met her yet as I thought I'd give them a bit of a chance to settle into being a family of 4 but from the photos she looks like a little beauty.

Well, best get will be no surprise to learn I still haven't finished Baby T's christening cake! The picture is what I imagine our utility room to look like by Saturday night!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Chilling out - The Gallery

How ironic that this week's theme for Tara Cain's Gallery is chilling out. Ironic because I'm having one of the least chilled out weeks ever with Tara's christening preparations in full flow for Sunday. If I ever suggest doing a buffet for 100 people again along with the cake and a new baby, tell me I'm off my trolley!

I have chosen this particular picture of Violet as this is how she chills out best - Violet runs around everywhere at 100 miles per hour but when she chills, she really chills. I can guarantee this was lying in our bed on a Sunday morning watching Peppa Pig. Nobody can rush our V when she is not ready to get moving. As I'm sure most parents of a 4 year old can appreciate, getting ready for school is a NIGHTMARE!

Measles Outbreak - Safe to travel to France?

So there I was last week happily reading the school newsletter when suddenly I came across a warning of a measles outbreak in France. Over 3000 cases have been recorded so far this year in France and guess who has got a family holiday booked there this summer? The older children are fully immunised but Baby T will be less than 6 months old when we go so will not have had her MMR.

We did what most people would have done which is nothing for a couple of days then started panicking. We googled Measles situation in France and learnt that last year the recorded cases for France were 5000. So it is significantly up.

I then rang NHS Direct who knew nothing about an outbreak. Then I tried the Doctor who suggested trying the Nurse who said to try the Health Protection Agency - Who were fab!!

They rang me back within half an hour, asked whereabouts we were going and how long for. We then had quite a long conversation about surfing but thats a post for another time!

The results are. Safe to travel with a baby even though not fully immunised. The warnings going out to Doctors surgeries and schools are aimed at reminding parents who have not had their children immunised to do so as soon as poss. It is mostly groups of teenagers that are contracting measles. If we were travelling abroad for 2 months or more, we may be advised to bring forward Baby T's MMR but even then this is unlikely as she is so young and may still have some of my natural antibodies. (Aw!)

So there we are, still going to France and another trauma is over for another day!

Monday, 9 May 2011

Listography - Bad Combinations

Whoa Kate! You had me lulled into a false sense of security with the last few weeks Listographies. This week's theme is Bad Combinations - Things that just plain don't work together - supposedly like the rhyme 'Red & Green are seldom seen except upon a fool'? Apart from I quite like red & green together - well perhaps not as a clothes combination...but I digress.

I struggled at first but then thought, this blog is about me (well, mainly) so that's where my bad combinations start:

Me & Fishfingers
Don't know what it is, we just don't mix. Give me a 5 tier wedding cake and I'm yours - fishfingers and they are either burnt or soggy!

Me & Being Practical
If anything is ever going to get me swearing and crying its DIY, lifting, sorting, tidying - I am so meant to sit on my bum!

Me & Timekeeping
I try, really I do but I can never seem to be on time - Sadly, my husband has now developed this trait and my children look like they are going the same way.

Me & Diets/Exercise
We are not great friends - life is too short and they sell some ok size 16 clothes these days!

Me & Homework & the 8yo
Please tell me I'm not the only one with a short fuse when it comes to homework time?

I could go on, I have found so many things that I don't mix with I'm starting to worry about myself.
For more hilarious combinations, visit KateTakes5 - even better join in!

Mr Men - Google Front Page and a cake

I am loving today's Google front page! It is the 76th birthday of Roger Hargreaves, the mastermind behind the Mr Men and Little Miss books. The page keeps changing between the Mr Men & Little Miss characters - I'm spending so much time today flicking backwards and forwards to see which one it is on now!

I've always loved the characters (although sometimes I hard the books hard to read out loud to the children) so much so that I made a Mr Men & Little Miss cake for my eldest daughter's christening 8 years ago. How strange that my mind is thrown back to her christening cake this week when I am working on the cake for my 3rd daughter's christening - I seemed to take so long over cakes in those days - something tells me I won't have quite so much time this week!

Happy Birthday Roger - and thanks for a wonderful set of memories!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Tutorial - How to make an edible Gruffalo

Earlier this week I posted a picture of my Gruffalo Cake and the response was incredible. I had many a discussion on Twitter about people making cakes for their children's birthdays and decided to post some tutorials of popular ideas for children's cakes.

The first being a Creme Egg Gruffalo: My cake had to travel from St Helens to Leeds and I knew the Gruffalo was not going to be eaten so was safe to insert a cocktail stick to keep the head on - normally I would use a piece of pasta to stick the head onto or even just make it a few days in advance so the head will just stick. I used sugar glue to stick everything together - make your own or just use cooled boiled water.

I used Chocolate Flavoured Fondant Icing. Roll out a piece of fondant, paint the creme egg with sugar glue and cover with the fondant. Make the seam at the back and smooth down the joint with your finger. Mark the 'body' with either a veining tool or a knife. Attach a small ball of icing for the neck. At this point insert the cocktail stick/pasta if you are using one.

Next get a ball on fondant slightly smaller than the body and roll the ends until it is an oval shape. Cut a mouth and open it - the gruffulo has a BIG mouth! Make the same marks for fur as on the body and make 2 holes for eyes - I use the end of a small pointy rolling pin (if you haven't got one, you could use the end of a clean paintbrush)

Stick the head on top of the body. Get 2 small balls of orange fondant icing - make one end of each pointy and stick into the eye sockets. You shouldn't need glue for this but if you do only use a tiny bit. Add a tiny black dot of icing to each orange eye.
Make 2 small sausages of brown for ears and attach to each side of the head. Put a tiny bit of pink icing over the front of each ear. Roll little grey sausages for teeth and attach some to the top lip and some to the bottom lip. 2 slightly larger grey sausages, pointy at one end make the horns on top of the head. A thin sausage of brown icing makes the nose with a small pale pink ball. He also needs a teeny weeny ball of green on top of the pink ball for the wart on his nose. He also needs 2 VERY thin black sausages for his eyebrows.

Make his legs and feet all-in-one with a long sausage folded just past the middle for his foot. Flatten down the foot bit and try to make some more markings again for his fur on the legs. The legs and feet will help him keep upright. 2 more brown sausages for his arms - cut into fingers at the end and try to round off the edges (back of a knife will do this) and attach to the body.

Tiny grey sausages made really pointy at the ends are attached to his hands and feet for claws. Loads of spikes are then attached to his back (the ones in the book were brown so I did them brown but my 4yo is convinced they should be purple - its up to you!)

And he's done and so is my first tutorial. How was it? I think The Gruffalo is quite a hard cake topper to do so maybe next time I'll go for something a little easier - any requests?

Peppa Pig Cake - Finished it Friday

I am having the type of day today when it is hard to imagine completing any task - even getting a wash load in the machine seems impossible. No particular reason, just one of those days.

So it is nice to look back over the last week and think, 'yes, I have finished something'. The cake pictured is obviously a Peppa and George cake - a very popular choice for tiny humans under 6. The recipient was Hugo, the little one of Cara from Freckles Family who handily hosts Finished it Friday. This is where we can show and tell what we have finished in the last week - whether it be a book, a crafty project or even a favourite recipe.

This is my offering for this week - I also completed the Gruffalo Cake which has had a fantastic reception.
Who knows what I will manage to get completed in the coming week!
Freckles Family

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful - Week 7

These weeks are flying by - I cannot believe that I have been posting my reasons to be cheerful for 7 weeks now. It really works - I am so chirpy.

To be fair, not much has changed since I last posted my reasons (it was only 4 days ago!) but never fear, I can still think of 3 reasons:

Reasons to be Cheerful 1: Babies
We are really lucky to have lots of friends who are expecting babies this year - Tara will certainly not go short of friends to play with. I am particularly excited about a friend who is due to deliver any day and beyond giddy to find out what flavour their new addition is.
Our own newest addition is now 10 weeks old and as fab as ever. She gives the most amazing smiles and cuddles and is STILL SLEEPING THROUGH! (sorry for shouting!)

Reason to be Cheerful 2: Books
Although, I do not get as much time as I would like to bury my head in a book, I love it when I can snatch the odd moment. I have about 3 books on the go at any one time and our trips to the van mean that slightly more reading gets done than usual.
I have just discovered a book that is taking me back to my youth - Sweet Valley Confidential. A real light read that re-visits the lives of the 'All American' twins, Elizabeth and Jessica. I used to love the Sweet Valley High books as a teen and love the idea of seeing what they are up to 10 years on. There are so many other books that I would love to revisit and see what the characters are up to. I will make sure to post a review when I'm done and will finally get another book to add to the 100 I'm to read before I'm 40.

Reason to be Cheerful 3: Finally getting sorted
Even though we are incredibly lucky to have had all these weekends away recently (Its Abersoch this weekend by the way!) there has been a slight downside, the house has been an absolute tip. I like to be quite organised and be on top of things which has been nearly impossible with all the comings and goings. We are finally able to tick a number of items off the to do lists and tackle Mount Washing and Ironing which have become so big they have a personality. Dull I know but I will feel better when they are done!

Big plans for the week ahead: Tara's Christening cake (you can't be the daughter of a cake designer and not have a wow cake!), hopefully I will be able to post my first 'how to make' tutorial, and a HUGE buffet to plan and prepare for.

Hope over to Michelle's place to see how the others are keeping cheerful this week.


Wednesday, 4 May 2011

April at a glance - The Gallery

This weeks for Tara Cain's The Gallery, we were set the task of summing up the month of April in one photo. This April has been a funny old month this year... The children were off school for Spring Break for the first 2 weeks, then back to school for 3 days then off for Easter. Much to the horror of a lot of small business owners there was another bank holiday on Fri 29th April for The Royal Wedding which fitted in with Mayday bank holiday - My Mum has spent 37 years trying to convince me that the bank holiday at the start of May was in honour of her birthday on 1st May.

All these days off school and Bank Holidays (are they supposed to have capital letters?) meant that we were lucky enough to spend lots of time with family. My picture for the Gallery this week is a family photo that is a replica of one that was taken exactly the same time last year. This also coincided withe the first anniversary of our Dad passing away. We have already started a tradition of getting together at this time and this year's photo includes 2 new additions to the family, our nephew, Miles and our little one, Tara. The photo was taken in my sister's garden the day after Miles' Christening.

We have managed to spend time with both sides of the family this month. Last weekend, we met up with my husband's sister and her family in Windermere as we were staying nearby. We remembered to get a family shot to mark the occasion.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Listography - Simple Pleasures


I sometimes wonder if everyone else is the same as me. I still find it amazing how much I enjoy a simple life. I am definitely not a posh bird and am very easily pleased. This week's Listography from Kate Takes 5 asks us to sum up 5 simple things that we enjoy. To be honest, I had a hard time narrowing it down to just 5.

My perfect day would consist of:

A cup of coffee and a good book

Reading always seems to take a back seat and suffer when I am busy or stressed. There is nothing like the feeling of being stuck in a good book - that sense of desolation when you have finished it and are without a good read on the go is terrible! Add to this a few dunky biscuits and I'm anybody's.

My favourite programme

I get a lot of stick for being one of the only people left who avidly watch Casualty every week. I can guarantee that my husband will sit still for 50 minutes when it is on (we more often than not have to record it). We have watched it for years and know it is seriously uncool but we don't care!

Good Company

I have always loved being part of a gang/team/family - needy moi?? A bloody good chat, get together and catch up is fab - when it is unexpected is even better.

The Five of Us

Bit of a contradiction here, having talked about my love of a large gathering but one of my favourite things EVER is us 5 being together. Having nowhere to go, no phones ringing and no-one to see means that we appreciate how lucky we are to be a close family. This is when the best stories are told and when you find out that the girls have met up at school. Millie quite often looks out for Violet without us telling her she must which makes it even more special - these moments only surface when you are least expecting them and you get the warm glow of Mumhood!


If anyone can bottle the feeling of kissing and smelling your newborn, you will make a fortune!

And that's my Listography Simple Pleasure for this week - visit the others here - If we had 6 simple pleasure to choose, I'm sure most of us would have said, Getting Comments as number 6!


Monday, 2 May 2011

What a lovely week - Reasons to be cheerful

Once again, I am terribly late with my Reasons to be cheerful post. I know I could miss but at the moment I am realising how lucky I am (I hope that doesn't sounds blase) and want to document this for those times where I may take it for granted.

Reason to be cheerful 1: The Royal Wedding

Even though this was 3 days ago, there still seems to be a feeling of happiness in the air. Even people who were cynical (my husband) at first are mostly happy for William and Kate. Children are enchanted by the real life love story of Prince Charming meeting and falling in love with his Princess. The children had a street party at school on Thursday and the playground definitely had a happy atmosphere at picking up time. The actual wedding was magical with some lovely moments - them holding hands under the bridge, the drive in the Aston Martin when it was just the two of them... I could go on.

Reason to be cheerful 2: Milo's Christening

We are just back from one of the most fabulous weekends in Leeds at our nephew, Milo's Christening. My husband was chosen to be his Godfather (I am his sister's Godmother). We stayed over in Leeds after the party and had another lovely day today just taking it easy, walking, eating, chatting, playing and drinking LOTS of tea. The kids had the best time - There is nothing like a fabulous weekend with a family celebration and we are doing it all again in 2 weeks!

Reason to be cheerful 3: Old Friends

If any of them are reading this, I DO NOT MEAN IN AGE!
We have taken our caravan down to Abersoch for the season which means we have met up with some friends we met last year. It is great to see the children meet up with their friends from last year - they have slotted into playing together so easily. It is why we got a van in the first place.
I am also sticking to my New Year's Resolution of spending more time with friends this year and am looking forward to a week of meet ups with various friends and their lovely children.
I am also enjoying my other life, my internet life at the moment and am coming across some lovely people. Don't tell my children but I am looking forward to meeting these on-line friends in real life too - Its exactly what you tell your kids not to do!

Reason to be Cheerful 4: Cakes

I posted last week about incorporating cakes into my personal blog and the reaction has been lovely. I agree that cakes make up part of the person I am but the reaction to my Gruffalo cake has really spurred me on. Its always a gamble taking a few months away from your business. I was worried that I would lose my skill but I have really enjoyed getting back into it.

Ok, that's all I have energy for - Its extremely tiring being this cheerful! Could I please ask you to pop over to Michelle's place at Mummy From The Heart and visit the other cheerful lovelies?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Gruffalo Cake

What a cake to start back with after a 3 month absence! This was the cake I made for my lovely nephew, Miles Patrick 'Milo''s Christening this weekend.

I have to admit The Gruffalo book isn't one of the favourites of my girls. We prefer Room on the Broom and Monkey Puzzle more. I even had to borrow the book to copy the characters. I made the Gruffalo out of a creme egg. I will do a tutorial here soon. On the morning of the christening, 10 minutes before we set out for the 50 ish mile journey to Leeds my 8 year old daughter decided to tell me that the cake would not be complete without a fox as this is a major character. So a fox's bum sticking out of the back it was! ( It was lovely to see my 3 year old niece choose the fox as the first thing to eat later that day)

The cake included a snake in a log pile, an owl (eyes peeing out of a black hole in a tree made of pillars) and of course the fox's bum!

The next 2 weeks will be spent making Baby T's christening cake - such pressure but a very worthwhile subject!