Friday, 17 October 2014

Top 5 Childhood Scary Movies - Friday Night is Fright Night

Back for more are you? haven't been scared enough?

Well this installment of Friday Night is Fright Night is all about those films which terrified us when we were young. You know the ones you weren't supposed to watch but one of your friends nicked the tape from his big brother. Yes yes - tapes - VHS; that's what they were in those days and if you don't remember them then you probably won't remember being terrified by these films either. I have a feeling that if you didn't watch these when you were a kid they might not have the same effect . I should point out that although I have stated the year of the US cinema release for these films this has no relation to when I watched them since back in the day we had to wait at least one whole year for films to be released in our UK cinemas, then it took literally years for films to be released on video and if you waited for them to be shown on TV then that was another couple of years after the video so, on reflection; there was probably no reason to state the year at all......*tumbleweed moment*...anyhoo on with the post...

Let me know if these are the ones you remember from your childhood nightmares or whether I've missed out your favourite!

Here we go then: Top 5 and remember they are in no particular order:

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984 
Robert Englund stars as one of the most iconic horror movie characters of all time - he even reprised the role 5 more times! Before Wes Craven reinvented the youth horror scene he actually invented it with this frightener and we've all been having nightmares about it ever since. Bonus points go to this film because it stars Young Johnny Depp which is always a good thing! I can't say too much more about this film without giving away spoilers but basically there's this street called Elm Street and it's, well, a total nightmare. Robert Englund also scared the beJesus out of us as the entirely creepy professor in Urban Legend which featured in my previous post.

2. Candyman, 1992 
I remember when the first person at school watched this film and then told us the story on Monday morning - even though we now knew what would happen we all went home and managed to get hold of a copy, or went to a friend's to watch it. Literally the whole school year could no longer look in the mirror. There was a rumour that a bigger boy in my brother's year made his mum get rid of all the mirrors in the house because he was so terrified of Candyman. Watch it at your peril because you may never be able to look at your own reflection again afterwards. Bonus info: Tony Todd who stars in this film and is responsible for all the terror was also the source of evil in the Final Destination films from my previous post - are we sensing a theme? (wait how many times did I say the name of this film...oh ok I'm safe)

3. Hellraiser, 1987
On your right is the poster for this movie ---->
I'm actually not looking at it because it actually terrifies me still!
There was a copy of this in our house when I was younger and even though I knew it would be scary I took a peek - holy shit you guys - it is entirely inappropriate for kids or anyone for that matter. I have since watched the whole thing and I'm still disturbed. I can't talk about it anymore because I have to scroll down so I can avoid this picture.

4. It, 1990
This is where I let you into a secret: you know in American Pie* when they talk about "band camp" and how anyone who goes to "Band Camp" is a total nerd?! Well, I'm one of those nerds - except mine was orchestra camp. Every summer I went to the Lake District to a music course where I played my cello in an orchestra made up of other geeks from around the country - yes: I'm a full on nerd. (*bear in mind that they were playing woodwind instruments which are a lot smaller and more slender than stringed instruments so the answer to your question is - NO and you have a filthy mind!)

Back to the matter at hand - this is technically a TV minis series based on the Stephen King novel. Imagine the scene, for this years' music course I was staying in a log cabin on the banks of Lake Windemere and this was on the telly. I was far too young to watch but watch I did and I. AM. AN. IDIOT! It's fairly common to be frightened of clowns and this is probably the reason why most people are. The master of scary stories doesn't disappoint with this one plus Tim Curry is incredible and totally terrifying! (I absolutely adore Tim Curry - and I'm not the only one so I feel bad saying anything negative about him but curse him for being so good in this role!)

5. Child's Play, 1988
Did someone say Chucky? Is there anything more scary than a doll or puppet? This is another hideous movie franchise which also spawned 5 sequals and even comic books. At one point the series of films strays from the format of psychological horror/slasher movie to become more of a satire but then returns to being truly freaky in the end. This original stars Chris Sarandon who is a brilliant actor and I have to love him because he is the Six-fingered Man aka Count Tyrone Rugan (if you know what that means then you are officially awesome because that is in my opinion the best film ever made)

Well there you have it.....another set of freaky films to get you in the mood for Hallowe'en. What do you think of this list? Have you seen all these? Do they still give you nightmares? I think I'll be sleeping with a nightlight on after reliving this little lot! Next week I will be looking at Classic Horror......come back and join me....if you dare.........

Friday, 10 October 2014

Top 5 Teen Horror Movies

Good evening and welcome my pretties..........*creaky door opens slowly*

This is the first installment in my "Friday Night is Film Night" posts - except that for these first few posts it's more like "Friday Night is Fright Night".......oh yeah, and from now until Hallowe'en the posts won't necessarily be on Fridays. It seems as though I should come up with a new name for this series but,'s done now.

Every year around Hallowe'en we like to settle down and watch some new scary films in my Rhiality so I thought maybe you'd like to share in what's been on our telly while we I cower behind a cushion.

First up is Teen Horror, I thought I'd start things off with a lighthearted bunch so as not to scare you off ;)
Many people don't take this genre too seriously but I think that's a bit unfair. The post-modern revival of the slasher movie was almost a golden era for a brief period in the 90s (you know how I love the 90s right?)

I'm not going to bore you with an extensive history of this's not Wikipedia you on with the top 5. Who doesn't love a good top 5 list eh? Less than 10 and more than 4 - perfick! P.S. These are in no particular order ok. If you think I've missed something out or that I'm just plain wrong then holla and let me know.

*I'm trying not to include spoilers but I'm really sorry if I give anything away. 

1. Scream, 1996
This seems like the most sensible place to start - it epitomises the genre. Horror genius Wes Craven and screen ledgend, Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek) cleverly combined the twists we know and love from the original slasher movies but turned things on their head and injected modern humour. When it hit our screens we were bombarded by the promise of some huge stars which instantly set this film apart from its predecessors who preferred unknown victims: Drew Barrymore most notably, Courtney Cox (at the height of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. hype) and Neve Campbell, still abuzz from Party of Five.

The massive smash hit spawned a string of sequels and I for one adore this film and the franchise. Technically pleasing and a nod to the movie geek in me - what's not to like? Fave performances come from Jamie Kennedy as Randy and Matthew Lillard as Stuart (LOVED him in Hackers - anyone else see that?) Also some excellent cameos to look out for.

2. I Know What You Did Last Summer, 1997
Here's another franchise which was massive at the time! This one also boast some of THE biggest stars of the day: Ryan Phillipe and Freddie Prinze Jr probably adorned the walls of most teenage girls at the time (not me- too clean cut! Who was on your walls back in the day?) and for the boys there was TV royalty - Jennifer Love Hewitt (my husband's fave 90s pinup girl) was only meant to appear in a couple of episodes of Party of Five but ended up with a regular part thanks to her special brand of vulnerability. Sarah Michelle Gellar is Buffy the Vampire Slayer - everything about Buffy is genius - Wheedon is God - Buffy haters need not apply here-nuff said! Loosly based on a novel of the same name only with more slashing this was one of the first films in the genre to play on "urban legends" which most kids (in America at least) would relate to. Glossy and gory, watch the first one because it's good, watch the sequels because it's raining.

3. Final Destination, 2000
Death is the one doing the slashing in this movie which also evolved into a franchise (sensing a theme here - there's money to be made from those impressionable kids). The Candyman himself stars in this film alongside some largely unknown 20-somethings trying to pass for high school kids, one of them is Jack from Dawson's Creek (Kerr Smith who by the way is now a dead ringer for Jose Mourinho!) Even though the premise of each film in the series is exactly the same, each movie has it's own great death (or near death) scenes, kind of like those marble runs you used to set up when you were little or when you rigged up an advanced system of pullies to turn your light off from in bed - or Data! If I have taken one thing from these movies it's that I'm pretty much terrified when driving behind a lorry carrying ANYTHING!!!!!!!

4. Halloween H20, 1998
I was too young to experience the original Halloween movies and have that never-ending debate about whether Jamie Lee Curtis was actually born a hermaphrodite; however this reboot (yes I know I said reboot!) was actually pretty good. Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role plus we are treated to a performance form a popular teen tv show (shocker!): Michelle Williams is perfect as ever; I'd never heard of Josh Hartnett until this film (my life would have been much the same), Hollywood Royalty Janet Leigh makes an appearance and someone who did adorn my walls back in the day (and my CD player - I have eclectic taste in music k?!) was the Phenomenon himself, LL Cool J. Plus there's also a performance from diminutive now-demi-god of Hollywood, Joseph Gordon-Lovitt.

5. Urban Legend, 1998
Last but not least is the teen horror without a clever name - every scary story which has been told around the campfire features somewhere in this one and yes, bonus points again for a Dawson's Creek star - Joshua Jackson (in case you are wondering I always have been a Pacey girl and always will be!). Speaking of teen tv hotties - Jared Leto is also in this film and he was on my wall and in my pencil case (as Jordan Catalano - "he leans great" there's even a whole blog about it) oh and Tara Reid before the melty face/boob issues. It's less predictable than you might think so maybe you haven't heard this horror story before.

There you have it - special mention goes to something a little older than this list but which nearly made the cut The Lost Boys, 1987. The most beautiful girl I had ever seen, Keiffer Sutherland before he somehow became good looking in 24 and the awesome Coreys before child stardom ruined everything! "How could a billion Chinese people be wrong?"

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Birds Eye SteamFresh - A Taste for Steam

I got a little steamy with Captain Birdseye in London town last week, ahoy sailor!!

Ahem...sorry it all went a bit Carry On for a moment there. Back to business...full steam ahead. Birdseye very kindly invited me to their SteamFresh product range launch. We were treated to a fabulous evening right in the centre of London complete with some exciting and innovative touches.

Upon arrival I was presented with a cocktail menu - don't worry I tried all three varieties!

Never one to turn down a G&T I just had to try this inhalable version so armed with a long plastic straw I breathed deeply and truly did experience gin, tonic and bell pepper flavours.

Garden Glamour vodka-based peppery cocktail
Pea mojito - light and refreshing

After sampling the unusual tipples it was down to the food....

What a fabulous display - like an art gallery for food with every variety on a pedestal.

So it boils down to this - don't boil your veg - steam them. All the varieties in the range are designed to be steam cooked in a microwave in minutes.

We all know that Birdseye are passionate about picking veg and freezing them super fast to preserve the goodness; by doing this and then cooking quickly using steam the veg retain all the goodness, crunch and flavour.

We even had a bit of freezing fun with liquid nitrogen (don't actually try and have fun with liquid nitrogen kids, we can't all be Heston!).

We had a very interesting chat about our palates and discussed the flavour notes in the food range and how they can be combined and was time to sample the food.

Here's my full disclosure...I don't own a microwave.

I'm not against them necessarily it's just that I have so many kitchen gadgets I never found space or the need for one.

I do buy frozen veg and I do use a steamer to cook it and if I ever boil any veg I usually use the water for gravy since it has some of the vitamins which have leeched out. The SteamFresh range comes in special bags which are put into the microwave and are ideal to promote the circulation of steam.

The food we were treated to was delicious. It was great to see how the varieties could be spruced up with just a couple of extra ingredients or just leave them as they are for a healthy, fuss-free side dish. The Mexican rice was scrummy and the vegetable range really was packed with flavour and colour. I like the idea of cooking a small portion of mixed vegetables as a way to encourage children to eat them, there's probably far less waste this way.

Overall I enjoyed the experimental vibe of the evening and the food was very tasty. I will leave it to you good readers to go out and buy something from the range and let me know what you think and if you sure to drop me a line and let me know what you thought - I'll be sure to provide upfront feedback to me ol' mucker Cap'n Birdseye ;-)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Cake Decorating Store Product Review

Here we are again eh?....only this time I've got some lovely baking news - aaahhh baking news, officially the best kind of news.

I've been in touch with the lovely people at the Cake Decorating Store, specifically Hayley, their "Chief Cupcake Connoisseur". Seriously, isn't that the coolest job title in the world ever?!

If you've never shopped with them before then you really must check them out: a wonderful selection of everything baking related, gift vouchers (because who doesn't love baking equipment as a pressie) and they have some great super fast delivery options too!

As always, in the interests of full disclosure here's the science bit: I was very generously given a brilliant box of baking goodies to enjoy with my boy in exchange for this piece.  The gorgeous Hayley sent us a whole host of fun treats for me to bake up a storm with my little boy. You know how much I love to bake and how much my boy loves to join in and enjoy the spoils: so of course this was no hardship at all.

Just look at the wonderful goodies: the little pot is an ingenious dispenser for cocktail sticks, perfect for using to add drops of gel food colouring. My boy was so excited by these edible decorations. He's weirdly fixated on smarties at the mo so this tub of mini ones was just the ticket. When he saw the sugar googly eyes it got serious! He was already making plans for how he wanted the cakes to look.

The fun didn't stop there however because next up are the robot decorations and the cutest mini monster motifs. If you have a Monsters Inc. fan in your house then these would be ideal for you!

A whole tub of ready-made vanilla I may have had a private moment just me, the icing and a spoon but the chef has to have some perks right?! Last up the whole package was made complete with these decorative cupcake monster wraps and how thoughtful...even a carry box to transport my cakes in safety. Cake safety is a very serious issue!

The next day after school me and my boy made some cupcakes. A really special thing was that he had been named "Star of the day" at school and so had been allowed to bring home the class pet (a cuddly dog). We had to write in the "adventure book" which accompanies this pet and so we included him in the baking process and then my boy got to tell his whole class all about it. 

The moment of truth then....we just had to make half the cakes blue....obvs! This colour is called "ocean blue" but I think I'm going to name this shade "Cookie Monster".

The next day we got into the decoration. Normally I would spend a long time whipping up buttercream to just the right consistency for piping (easier said than done- piping has never been my strong point); however we had the ready made stuff which was surprisingly yummy! You all know that I usually only favour the homemade and wouldn't buy ready made stuff, while that is still true I do see one big positive with these ready made items - my boy. You see he loses interest and gets bored when I make the icing and he is also a fan of a neat outcome. In this way these decorations are ideal. He was able to get straight into the process and I loved watching him decide where things would go (even if he does get a bit bossy!)

We had a few left over and I took them to my sister's because she was hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning so they contributed to a jolly good cause!

I really can't thank the Cake Decorating Store enough and I will definitely be shopping there in the future, which reminds me - check out their spooktacular Hallowe'en stock mwah ha ha ha ha haaaaa!!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Why Do I Write? Blog Hop

Ey up virtual chums, nice of you to pop by.

I've been nominated by the gorgeous Lucy on Mrs. Bishop's Bakes and Banter to take part in this Blog Hop entitled Why do I write?  You can read Lucy's post here - she's a girl after my own heart  so be sure to take the time to look around her lovely virtual space.

So here goes nothing:

Why do I write?
Um...because Lucy told me to?! Ok, so in my real Rhiality I write for so many different reasons. As an all round creative person I have spent my life dabbling in creative pursuits of all kinds. Primarily of course the theatre, my first creative love. Having spent nearly all my childhood free time on stage and learning new skills to further that, I eventually headed to London....and to proper drama school. Alongside this pursuit of a dream I was musically creative and learning all kinds of crafts and art forms - I try to talk about many of these here in my Virtual Rhiality.

Trying to earn a living from a creative passion is brutal kids - if you are in your right mind I urge you not to do it; although most of us in this world aren't of sound mind so you're going to do it anyway! Even those of us with the toughest skin feel every knock-back as a distinct kick in the guts. To pick yourself up gets a little harder every time. You will question your ability (and sanity) everyday and others will tell you you're not good enough everyday. You have to "invent" new ways to earn, to practice, to pursue your happiness. If you play guitar you can play for fun, at parties or go busking - no one wants to see a Shakespearean busker or hire you to perform a Jacobean witchcraft play at their 21st birthday party!

So after I had my incredible boy and we had firmly settled into a new life as a family I found myself creatively challenged and frustrated and without enough outlets for these feelings I created a new one.....this humble blog became a new focus for some of these feelings. It was for no other reason than that really.....but as for why I continue to write.....that's another question....the answer to which is for another day but - spoiler alert - if you're reading this then you are one of the main reasons.

What am I working on?
Well I am really excited to say that I have some fun stuff coming up including a review of some fantastic baking goodies and a review which has blown my mind! I have been very fortunate to connect with some lovely people through my blog in the last couple of months and I am very grateful for that. I don't post a lot of reviews here and I only ever review products which are truly "me" so anything you do read here will always be my honest opinion. Watch this space. In other news, writing frequently for this blog has paid off in other ways and I am now happily earning real money as a freelance writer which would not have happened had I not been writing here.

How does my blog differ from others of its genre?
Truthfully, I don't even know which genre my blog fits into!! In this way my blog is a true reflection of myself - totally eclectic. Here you can read about crafts, baking, motherhood, family adventures, tv and film., crochet and more......I wouldn't know how to categorise myself and I don't know how to categorise my blog. I like it that way, keeps me from getting bored but it is tricky to fill in those forms sometimes because I really have no idea where I fit in. Also, the blogs I read are a total mixed bag from beauty to pure craft, DIYs, general lifestyle, travel and photography - I don't compare blogs to my own or to each other.

How does my writing process work?
Well, here's the thing....I don't have a process per se. I think of something I want to write about and then when I have some time I write about it. As I write this I have a little boy snuggled on my left shoulder and a superhero cartoon on my tv - I call this Saturday. My boy is so exhausted from new school that he's enjoying major downtime and all he wants is to veg out a bit - considering how much he's on the go during the week he definitely needs it so for this couple of hours that's what he's allowed to do. So I've taken advantage of being pinned to the sofa and am typing away. Of course I do like to include a lot of photos usually so in that case I will put thought into the photos and then write the post around them. When I have accepted reviews or sponsored posts I usually don't have an "angle" I just get stuck in and usually the flow happens. It's much easier to write what you want, when you want than it is in my other writing where there are lots of rules to follow - I definitely have experienced writers' block on a few occasions but usually that looming deadline shakes me out of it so even if it comes down to the wire I hit the deliver button with a few minutes to spare!

Massive thanks again to Lucy for nominating me. I would like to nominate some of my favourite blogging buddies: the ever-wonderful   Julia at Tea, Cake and My Boy     the inspiring Amanda at City Girl Gone Coastal    and   the hilarious Katie at Hook, Line and Sink Her .

I hope you have enjoyed reading this...I've enjoyed writing it more than I thought I would actually. I was sort of worried that I wouldn't have anything to say - Mega lol! When has that ever happened?!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Old School New School - Remix Part 3

So, you're embracing the changes around here in my Virtual Rhiality and I'm embracing the changes in my real Rhiality.....

New school is upon us. My little boy started on Wednesday 3rd with a later start and then it was early starts on Thursday and Friday. We got over the weekend and school began in earnest last week.

The uniform was purchased, the labels were sewn in (yes, even the socks), new things washed and ironed - yes, this was a shock to me to but I am now a person who irons!!! - Confession, I actually had to go and buy an iron and ironing board for this! No longer will clothes be "steamed" in the shower.  See, I am a proper mum!

The day before school started there was a picnic in the park behind the school for all the reception children. This was such a great opportunity for the children to meet and play freely and parents to mingle.

Uniform ready, bags packed. We headed off for the first day. We live just a little too far away to walk all the way to school but I'm keen to walk as much as possible so we drive part way (don't worry, I drive a hybrid so it's allowed yes?!) then we walk for about 15 mins - at the boy's pace.

The walk is delightful, we cross over railway bridges and spot trains - if you wave they even toot you!
We bump into loads of nursery chums en route to their respective new schools and get to feel bright and ready for the day ahead. All in all a lovey way to get to school and it totally doesn't feel London-y (you know I have no real love for London so this pleases me!)

Old School 
In case you hadn't guessed from the uniform this new school we're going to is old school in lots of ways. The headmaster or senior member of staff available shakes each child's hand on arrival at school which is super.
The reception area of the school is pretty well self-contained which minimises the scariness of it all.

My boy went into the classroom with no tears or grumbles and was greeted joyously by the friends he had made at the picnic the day before - perfect.
His teacher and teaching assistants are lovely too so Mummy and Daddy are feeling safe as well!

I know there will be wobbles along the way but so far so good, half a week, the return after the weekend, a full week and now into week 2 and we're still all enjoying things.

On a personal note - walking so many miles per week is going to be sooooo good for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 Now  we've all settled into the newness normal service will be resumed around here....with a few exciting things in the offing.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

So here's what you missed on....ME. Remix part 2

Ooh a Glee reference, well I'm getting more up to date I guess!

View from our balcony on arrival

The summer has gone by so quickly! It started with our holiday just a couple of days after little N finished his last day ever at nursery (you know - the safe, warm place where all his friends are!). We headed off to our apartment in Mallorca for 12 days.

Daddy's new waterproof chuckable camera is cool

good for learning - looks like a pro

Gin is massive in Spain
Plane on the way home

in-sea cuddles
We weren't sure we were going to be able to go right up until the last minute because I'd been suffering from a medical thing - you don't wana know - so if I just say "women's troubles" will you all agree to look embarrassed like an old, male geography teacher, overt your eyes and stutter whilst telling me I can go to see the school nurse????

Coolio, thanks for that.

So we did get to Spain and it was loverly. The boy had a wonderful time, we caught up with friends, embraced the siesta and stayed up late with good food and wine. My boy was very brave in the sea and his swimming improved loads. It was brilliant to be the three of us together non-stop for nothing but fun!

Back at home it was time for my operation.


A short stay in hospital and huge thanks to my London-based siblings for rallying round and looking after the boy (who coped very well with the upheaval). Things didn't quite go to plan and so it was a few weeks before all the tubes and pipes were taken out of me so I could actually move around with ease and get on with normality. My husband is the absolute best - he took care of me, the boy, the house, food, cooking and his work with expert skill and lots of support for me when I was feeling pretty low.

The healing is still happening but not quite in a textbook fashion so there's a chance I'll need further intervention - boo hiss!!!

Anyway - there you have it - probably everything you missed. All in all a mixed bag but my boy had fun which was the main thing.

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