Saturday, 19 January 2019

YOUR STARS FOR 2019!

Skye Tanberry is here with some mystical predictions and advice for a MAGICAL year ahead!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
You are super ambitious and work towards your goals no matter what cost. This bodes well for you in 2019, you will see great change. Some will be good and some bad - take it all in your stride, for the best things in life are never easy and it's all a learning curve. A stable house first must have solid foundations... and 2019 will see you take the first steps towards building an awesome future!

AQUARIUS: Jan 20 - Feb 18
Artistic and spiritual guidance will be at the forefront this year. You will meet someone new, someone important who will help you realise a part of yourself you haven’t discovered yet... and you'll learn things about yourself which will help to shape and cement your future hopes and dreams. You like to respect tradition and can be very set in your ways but this is a good year to be adventurous!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
You are a sensitive and trusting soul and you care for others sometimes more than you do for yourself, no matter the cost. Well, this year is a chance for you to focus on what makes YOU happy! Whilst being there for those you love is undeniably admirable, it's essential to look after yourself too so that you can go on being the kind, caring person you are.

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are bold and spontaneous, full of life and vigour! Show the world your true colours this year - adventure will find you, and all you really have to do is relax and go with the flow. Let go of your need to plan and control and see where 2019 takes you - there will be a few surprises! You are naturally competitive so use this to your favour by being the best version of YOU!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
For all your ambition and goals for this year, never underestimate the value in philosophical reflection. Where do you really want to be? What is the best way to get there? Ask questions! Be inquisitive! Try things out! By questioning your path you will find a greater understanding of the things that really make you tick... and suddenly the way forward will be clear.

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Step outside your comfort zone this year, go with your gut instincts. You are naturally very intuitive,
so let this guide you forward. For Geminis, logic isn't always what is needed... your extra perceptive people skills and communication talents stem from a much more emotional place. Follow your heart - it may take you to places you never even dreamed!

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
You are naturally a bit of an introvert, retreating to your shell when things get hard... just be sure you don't allow this trait to send you into hibernation mode! 2019 brings great opportunities and unexpected joy, but only if you dare to live life to the full. Though crowds and parties aren’t your thing, keeping a select few trusted loved ones around you will keep you right!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You will experience great changes this year. You may have been sitting a bit too comfortably recently, so try to welcome this change with open arms... what may seem confusing too others is actually just your way of taking ownership of your true hopes, dreams and wishes. You're doing great, so keep the faith. Show everyone who you are and who you can be - many chances are there for the taking this year.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Ever practical, Virgo! This year is no change, you methodically create your own path in life. You have many new projects to embark on in 2019… scope out those around you, see who will help you succeed and don't be afraid to put the work in to make those dreams happen. Be open to surprises, too - there may be a blessing in disguise from someone you wouldn’t expect!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Improving your personal relationships may be your focus this year. Friends and family are important and may make your already powerful self unstoppable! There may be some challenges to negotiate, and perhaps you'll have to bite the bullet and stay quiet when you would like to speak out, but put yourself in the other person's shoes and tread carefully. Sometimes small sacrifices can result in large rewards.

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Health in mind and body will bring about real benefits to you this year. It can be hard to shrug off the January blues, but eating well and exercising has untold rewards to your mental health. Once you're feeling balanced and content, there's nothing you can't do this year - expect friendship, fun, adventure and newfound respect from others for a new skill! Look out 2019!!

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
2019 is all about expanding your knowledge! You are naturally inquisitive and fascinated with the world around you, so why not share that fascination? Start debates, ask a stranger how their day is, be inspired to make new connections! Lessons are everywhere... and this is a learning year, but it will also bring new and unexpected friendships which will broaden your horizons. Cool!

Cathy says:
2019 is shaping up to be something special! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to let us know!

Friday, 28 December 2018

CC'S BIG FESTIVE QUIZ

1) Which British monarch introduced the Christmas tree to the UK?
A )King Alfred The Great
B) Henry viii
C) Queen Victoria

2) Who was the author of A Christmas Carol?
A) Cathy Cassidy
B) Jaqueline Wilson
C) Charles Dickens

3) In which direction should you stir mincemeat for good luck? 
A) Clockwise
B) Anti-clockwise
C) Equal amounts in both directions

4) Which of the CC books does NOT contain a Christmasy scene?
A) Marshmallow Skye
B) Sundae Girl
C) Sami’s Silver Lining

5) In medieval Britain, which dish would NOT have been part of a nobleman's traditional Yuletide feast?
A) Turkey
B) Roast goose
C) Roast swan

6) On the night of the first Christmas, where did Mary and Joseph take shelter so that Jesus could be born?
A) An inn
B) A Stable
C) Bethlehem B&B

7) How do you say Happy Christmas in French?
A) Joyeux Noël
B) Feliz Navidad
C) Fröhliche Weihnachten

8) On which day did Good King Wenceslas go out?
A) The first day of the January sales
B) The Feast of Stephen
C) The Winter solstice

9) What treat do the carollers in ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ demand to be given?
A) Chocolate yule log
B) Trifle
C) Figgy pudding

Raymond Briggs, author of The Snowman, book and film, also wrote… ?
A) Father Christmas
B) How The Grinch Stole Christmas
C) The Polar Express

CATHY SAYS:
Jot down your answers and email them to me at:
mailcathycassidy@googlemail.com to be in with a chance of winning a cool festive prize! Closing date: January 13th.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

CARA: THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Reader Cara explains various traditions around Christmas-time and how they came to be... read on!

Cara says:
On Christmas Eve, all across the country and beyond, excited children are hanging their stockings at the end of the bed, or sometimes, like the sisters in the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS, on the mantlepiece around the fire. Where did this custom come from? How did it start? Like many of our Christmas traditions, folklore mixes in with Christianity to form a Christmas Eve custom.

One old story tells of a poor man unable to buy clothes or food for his three daughters. In some versions, the problem is a lack of ‘dowry’ without which the girls would never be allowed to get married. A kind neighbour decided to help, and to avoid making the poor man embarrassed, he threw three gold coins down the chimney, which then fell by accident into three stockings drying by the fire! The neighbour later became known as St Nicholas.

A different legend, from Holland, describes a character called Sinterklaas travelling around on his white horse. He would stop to let his horse feed on carrots or hay which children would leave out on the doorstep in their clogs. In return, he would leave presents and sweets. But it was not until 1823 that the poet Clement Clarke Moore wrote the verse ‘A Visit From St Nicholas’ which included the lines: ‘The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in the hope that St Nicholas soon would be there.’

The tradition became a firm part of Christmas - all long before the arrival of the Coca Cola lorry - and families still hang stockings or sacks for Father Christmas to fill, almost 200 years later!

Cathy says:
Love this - thank you, Cara! What are YOUR Christmas Eve traditions? COMMENT BELOW to tell all!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

PERFECT PRESSIE - HOMEMADE HOT CHOC MIX

This easy to make hot choc mix tastes fab and looks amazing too - PERFECT for a last minute home made pressie! It'll keep for two weeks in a sealed jar so make it just before you gift it...

YOU WILL NEED:
  • a beautiful home-made label (let your creativity go wild!)
  • a clean jam jar with the labels scrubbed off
  • a grater
  • 125g dark chocolate
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • a parcel label and curling ribbon
TO MAKE:

1) Stick your label on the jam jar. Experiment with brown or black paper with 'Hot Chocolate' painted or collaged on.

2) Coarsely grate the dark chocolate. Mix the caster sugar and cocoa powder together, straight into the jar, and stir in the grated chocolate (or layer each ingredient separately for a striped effect.)

3) Screw the lid on tightly.

4) Write instructions for making the hot choc on a parcel label: 'Place a heaped table-spoon of hot chocolate mix in a mug and top with hot milk or a mixture of milk and boiling water. Stir and serve!'

5) Tie the label round the neck of the jar and store it in the fridge until you're ready to gift it. Cheap, cheerful and super-yummy hot choc mix makes a perfect pressie for friends or family - make one just for YOU, too!

Cathy says:
Another fab idea for a homemade Xmas pressie from my CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS book... which would make a pretty awesome Xmas gift itself, now that you mention it! Have you done all YOUR Xmas shopping? COMMENT BELOW to tell us how you're getting on!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

COCO'S GUIDE TO CAROL SINGING

Coco says:
Grandma Kate told us that kids went carol singing a lot when she was little, so we decided to revive the tradition. We made a list of our favourite carols, dressed up warm, carried lanterns and went singing from door to door. Shay played guitar and I played violin; we had a great time and collected almost £40 for one of my favourite animal charities. A whole new tradition, I think!

Christmas Carols to try:Away in a Manger
  • O Little Town of Bethlehem
  • The Holly and the Ivy
  • While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks
  • Little Donkey
  • In the Bleak Midwinter
  • Once in Royal David's City
Or try a traditional Christmas song:
  • White Christmas
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Jingle Bells
Or mix it up with a more modern cover:
  • All I Want For Christmas Is You
  • Fairytale of New York
  • Last Christmas
  • So Here It Is (Merry Christmas)
  • I Believe in Father Christmas

Cathy says:
Aww... love these Tanglewood Christmas traditions! Why not read MARSHMALLOW SKYE to find out more about how the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS spend Christmas? Now, tell me YOUR fave Christmas song... COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Monday, 10 December 2018

CHRISTMAS REINDEER COOKIES!

Cake queen Helen has a great recipe for Rudolf cookies - guaranteed to get you into a Christmassy mood!


You will need:
 8oz self raising flour 
4oz caster sugar 
4 oz butter or baking margarine like stork
one egg, beaten
Optional flavouring - ground ginger, vanilla essence, lemon flavouring... whatever you like!
Gingerbread man cookie cutter (turn it upside down and it's a reindeer cookie cutter!)

Method:
- Mix sugar and flour then rub in the butter until it forms a breadcrumb-like texture. 

- Combine dry mixture with the beaten egg 


- At this stage, you could add a flavouring like vanilla, almond or lemon... or even a good pinch of ginger!

- Bring the mixture together to form a dough.

- Chill In fridge for one hour 

- Roll out the dough on a floured board and use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out the cookies.

- Place cookies on a greased baking tray and bake at 175 for  10-15 mins. The cookies should be a nice golden brown... don't let them burn!

- Allow the cookies to cool on a wire rack.


- When cool, turn the gingerbread man shapes upside down - they now look like reindeer faces!

- Decorate using chocolate writing pens or icing pens from any good supermarket, a bit of red 'royal' icing for the nose and edible googly eyes!

- Only one thing left - test out your cookies! Perfect for sharing with family and friends. Mmmm!

Cathy says:
Oooh! These look easy enough even for me to try... this is a perfect pre-Christmas baking project! Do YOU have a favourite festive recipe? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

HONEY'S PERFECT HOT CHOCOLATE

Honey Tanberry shares her recipe for the perfect winter warmer... 

YOU WILL NEED:
  • 1 mug of whole milk (skimmed and soya both work fine, or try oat or cashew or coconut...  but whole milk is my fave)
  • a small, non-stick saucepan
  • 1/2 medium-sized, good quality chocolate bar, roughly grated (I used leftover chocolate from Paddy's workshop)
  • a wooden spoon
  • squirty cream
  • cocoa powder
  • a candy cane, to stir (optional!)
TO MAKE:
1) Pour the milk into the saucepan and place it on a low heat.

2) Add the grated chocolate and stir patiently with the wooden spoon until the milk heats and the chocolate begins to melt. This is the only difficult bit (patient? me?) but you have to watch milk because it heats very quickly and can boil over or even burn. Get an adult to supervise if you're a kitchen klutz!

3) Once small bubbles begin to form on the surface, take the pan off the heat and pour the chocolatey milk into your mug.

4) Top with a squirt of cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder, plus a little grated chocolate and a candy cane to finish.

Serve with a long spoon and a big smile!!

CATHY SAYS:
Honey's recipe makes the perfect, decadent hot chocolate... I have a feeling we'll be needing it this December! Give it a go and COMMENT BELOW to add your fave extras! This and many other cool projects is from CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... a perfect addition to any Christmas list!

Saturday, 1 December 2018

YOUR STARS FOR DECEMBER!

Your stars, as read by our own Skye Tanberry, to set you up for a month of Christmas cheer! 

SAGITTARIUS: Nov 22 - Dec 21
The cold winds seem to be blowing, as winter settles. Things may appear a bit drab in the run up to Christmas, but remember there is magic in the wind. As it blows away old ideas, it brings fresh and exciting prospects for you!

CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19
Your friends offer opportunity this month - they're in the mood to celebrate, so get out there and check out those Christmas parties!  Balance this with quieter, more meditative moments and you'll sail though the month!

PISCES: Feb 19 - Mar 20
Scattered and stressed? Doesn’t sound like your normal self - you are usually very organised and ‘on it!’ Don’t worry about this too much, it is just your heads way of dealing with some significant changes, and of course Christmas just piles on the stress too. You will come out of it all with a much clearer vision, promise!

ARIES: Mar 21 - Apr 20
You are usually quite an active, sporty person but this month you have gone beyond! Not only with exercise, you have been busy as a bee socialising and making the most of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Remember a bit of quiet ‘me’ time is always healthy too!

TAURUS: Apr 21 - May 20
A new found confidence may come your way, with reinforcements from those around you. Revel in it, you deserve it! It isn’t your abilities that have changed, it is your attitude - and this will ensure you have a festive season to remember!

GEMINI: May 21 - Jun 20
Your artistic side is shining this December - use it to create something beautiful! If you are not usually creative, test out your abilities… pick up a paint brush, sketch your best friend or sing a Christmas song! You could even make some creative prezzies for your pals...

CANCER: Jun 21 - Jul 21
You may not always be the most outgoing person in your friend group, but you are the one who brings people together. Why not organise a Christmas sleepover with your besties and take a moment to celebrate your friendship? Good work!

LEO: Jul 22 - Aug 21
You seem to have your head permanently in a book these days, and rightly so - they are arguably the best learning resource going! However, remember there are those around you who need a little bit of attention too! Christmas may challenge your organisational skills, but the hard work will be worth it.

VIRGO: Aug 22 - Sept 21
Your home life is very important this month, there are a few creases to iron out with certain relations - the run up to Christmas can be a notoriously stressy time! A bit of time and TLC will do the trick... try having a Christmas movie night, or baking a cake to cheer everyone up!

LIBRA: Sept 22 - Oct 22
Fed up with all the Christmas madness? Time to set aside material objects and get back to nature. The crisp winter air has settled and the winter sun shines kindly on your face! Take a stroll in the park or the countryside, either solo or with a choice friend or relation!

SCORPIO: Oct 23 - Nov 21
Winter is sometimes a time where people can get stuck into negativity - defy this and focus on happy thoughts! Christmas is around the corner, which means family, fun and fabulous food! Your headspace is sacred, so pay it some overdue attention.

Cathy says:
Lots in store for you this festive season! Do Skye's predictions ring true for YOU? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Thursday, 29 November 2018

BOOK REVIEW: DIZZY

Readers Kelsie, Ava, Ellie, Milly and Emily share their personal review of CC book DIZZY and how it helped to form their friendship! 

Kelsie, Ava, Ellie, Milly & Emily say:
So... we actually met in a library over this book! We’d all heard of the book and then Ava was reading it in the school library at lunchtime. Emily met with her and instantly sparked a conversation about the book. She introduced the rest of us to Ava and we gradually formed the great friendship we have now!

Our favourite part of the story is when Finn, Mouse and Dizzy go for a day in town and then to the beach because we think it sounds like a perfect day! We have our own favourite characters, Emily and Milly love Mouse because they say he’s so cute, Ava and Ellie like Finn, they say he sounds really cute and Kelsie loves Dizzy because she says that she’s the strongest most believable character she’s met yet. We all think it’s because we can relate to our favourite characters because we’ve been in their situations before.

We have a meeting every week and we can all tell each other what’s going on in our lives and a couple weeks ago Ava told us that her parents were splitting up. She said that being good friends with us and reading DIZZY will hopefully help her get through any tricky times ahead.

At the meeting we also always come up with alternate endings to CC books and we emailed one as an idea for a new book - it was about Finn and Dizzy growing up and getting together, we thought that it would be a good in between story for people who wondered what happened to Dizzy, Finn and Mouse in the years between DIZZY and LUCKY STAR!

We all feel that DIZZY is an honest, open book, one we will read at ninety years old and still enjoy. Describing it in three words we’d say it was: outrageous, caring and strong. We loved it so much!

CATHY SAYS:
Love this... the story of a friendship that began with one of my books, what could be cooler? Do YOU have a friend who loves books as much as you do? COMMENT BELOW to tell us more!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

HOW TO MAKE AN ADVENT CALENDAR

Honey Tanberry shares how to make your own advent calendar... with a cute home made twist! 

HONEY SAYS:
An advent calendar is an essential for December, right? When you're little it has to be chocolate, but now Mum and Paddy run a chocolate business so chocolate isn't as rare or exciting as it used to be! Recently we came up with an idea for a different kind of advent calendar and it's so easy to make...

YOU WILL NEED:
  •  24 small squares of brown paper (approx 6 x 6cm)
  • scissors
  • a fine paintbrush
  • white and black paint
  • 24 multi-coloured envelopes 
  • a glue stick
  • white PVA glue and glitter/stick on stars 
  • 24 chocolate coins (optional)
  • squares of coloured paper
  • fineliner pens
  • several metres of bright or striped cord
  • 24 wooden clothes pegs
TO MAKE:
1) Cut out the brown paper squares. Using the fine brush, paint the numbers from 1-24 on the squares, alternating white and black paint. Allow to dry.

2) Set out the coloured envelopes in an order that pleases you. Use the glue stick to stick the number squares on to the envelope fronts.

3) Spread a thin layer of white PVA glue randomly on the envelope fronts and sprinkle glitter over them... or stick on gold stars!

4) If you want to include a little bit of chocolate, slip a chocolate coin into each envelope.

5) Now it's just a case of what to write on those squares of coloured paper! It could be inspiring quotes or compliments, or maybe challenges, jokes or even dares! You decide!

MINI PREZZIE IDEAS:
  • lip balm
  • nail varnish
  • earrings
  • key ring
  • glow stick
  • bookmark
  • mini notebook
  • fake tattoos
  • cool pen
  • candy cane
  • hairclips
  • bracelet 
  • Christmas decoration
  • badge
  • stickers
CATHY SAYS:
Love this... we are big fans of a 'home made' Christmas at our house, too! You'll find this project and LOTS more festive fun in my book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... track it down to save yourself some pennies this Christmas, or put it on your prezzie list! Have YOU got an advent calendar this year? COMMENT BELOW to have your say!

Saturday, 24 November 2018

READER REVIEW: CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS

Reader Maria reviews CC's book CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS... take a peek! 

MARIA SAYS:
I am a big fan of Cathy Cassidy books and the CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS is the first one that I owned. I borrowed it from the local library so many times that my parents got it for me! I was ecstatic when I saw it and quickly looked through it, folding down the corners of pages that I thought would be useful or fun to experiment with. It is very precious to me as I met Cathy Cassidy in Dublin not long ago, and she signed that book for me!

CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS has tons of ideas inspired by the Chocolate Box Girls series, from cookery to crafting, and the instructions are clear and simple to follow. It is separated into seasons, with suggestions for things that would suit each season (and month) of the year. The seasons are like chapters. It can be used for lots of things: hairstyles, recipes and it has top tips for making tops (top tips…ha ha.) There are also gifts ideas for family and friends. You can try out some fab Christmas gifts to surprise your BFFs!

I don’t like most cakes, so I was happy that there was a fridge cake recipe in the book. I made it and it was AMAZING!!! (I had to swap cherries with mini marshmallows as I don’t like cherries.) However cake fans, do not despair as there are some other great cake recipes inside too. The book has SO many ideas and best of all, some of them involve chocolate!

When I met Cathy Cassidy she told me that she especially enjoyed writing this book as she got to try and test out everything, and it is my favourite book too as it can really get your creative juices flowing!

Cathy says:
I LOVE this review from Maria... and she's right, CHOCOLATE BOX SECRETS is definitely a favourite for me! It's the perfect book for my arty, creative, extra-awesome readers (that's all of you, let's face it!) and the sisters from the CHOCOLATE BOX GIRLS series introduce each project! Put it on your Christmas list - or buy it now and save a fortune by making your own cool Christmas prezzies! Would you like to see some projects from the book on DREAMCATCHER? Just COMMENT BELOW to let me know!

YOUR STARS FOR 2019!

Skye Tanberry is here with some mystical predictions and advice for a MAGICAL year ahead! CAPRICORN: Dec 22 - Jan 19 You are super amb...