Nostalgic Horror Books from School

I remember my mum telling me about James Herbert’s Rats when I was a teenager, it was my first step into the deep dark scary world of horror. It’s a book world where I keep going back to years later. This introduction to horror led me to explore what young adult horror books were around in the early 90’s and these are what I found!
At school I remember there was some kind of book fair, and everyone was going crazy for the Point Horror series. They were written by many different authors including R.L Stine, who became to be my favourite young adult horror writer. He wrote Beach House which is shown in the picture, I love that one as I remember my older sister buying it for me. He wrote the Babysitter series which as I remember were well creepy! I’m sure that if you are of a similar age to me these were a part of your childhood! I still treasure my copies to this day and they have the pride of place in my library, although they are a bit on the rough side now!

  
As I got older I used to go to the public library after school, and this is where I explored the adult horror section to a fine detail. When I was around 15 I discovered the master of horror Stephen King. The first book I read of his was Rose Madder, which is about a husband and wife and their abusive relationship. I can see now that it was probabaly an inappropriate book for someone of 15, but I found it so intriguing. After I read all the more well known King books, like Carrie, The Tommyknockers and The Stand, of which is one of my all time favourite books, I looked further afield, and came accross James Herbert. I am not keen on his novel Once, I found it just plain weird! Its like an adult fairy tale with lots of dark undertones.
I had never read Herbert’s novel The Secret of Crickley Hall until I saw the TV adaptation which was made in 2012. Its about a young family who go and stay in a creepy house in Devon. I love a good ghost story and this is a great one! The book is way better than the mini series! It’s one of those books that you can go back and read all over again. 
I would love to hear your thoughts on what your favourite horror books are, or if you are not a fan of horror your favourite books from school.
Rachel xx

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Birthdays, Frankie & Benny’s and Gluten-Free Cake!

                         gluten free chocolate cake

This is the Gluten- Free Cookbook by Heather Whinney, Jane Lawrie & Fiona Hunter that I won, and it’s come in very useful for my gluten-free loving friend Steve! 
Last night we decided to head to Frankie & Benny’s for birthday celebrations for two of our group, my husband being one of them! I decided weeks ago to make the birthday cakes gluten-free with my beautiful competition win cookbook. I did slightly deviate from the recipe to make it my own, and I am glad I did as I feel it turned out much better, I have always liked playing around with recipes! Anyway this was my first attempt at a gluten-free cake and I had no complaints at the end of the night so must have been good!
I topped the chocolate cake with melted milk chocolate and crumbled flakes, the centre was chocolate buttercream. Perfect for a chocoholic like me!
                                 

Our visit to Frankie & Benny’s was brilliant! They took the birthday cakes to the kitchen as we arrived, ready for the end of our meal. They supplied us with a separate gluten-free menu with the main menu’s which was very helpful. We had sharing dough balls to start with for us that were non gluten-free, while we were deciding on our mains. I chose to have the pulled pork burger as shown above, which was very yummy!  Everyone agreed all our food was great! I have to give a special mention though to the cheese and bacon fries, mmmmm they were amazing!
I noticed on the front of the menu that they do a competition to win a £25 voucher if you tweet them a piccy of your party using the hashtag #Frankies. So that’s what I have done! A competition addict like me cannot miss the chance to enter! 
                                  
At the end of our meal the lights dimmed and then the music started! The staff came out with the cakes singing happy birthday at which point the whole restaurant started singing as well! It makes for a lovely atmosphere, and was the topping on the whole evening! They did live up to their promises of Great Food, Great Service Guaranteed!
I would love to hear if you have ever tried any gluten-free foods, this was my first time and I have to say I am impressed. The texture is different to a normal cake, but still tastes good!. I found afterwards I felt much lighter in my stomach and not bloated at all. 
Rachel xx

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Where to Find Free Samples

I love to find and receive free samples. It’s a great new way of trying new products that are coming out. I also save them to make little gift bags up at christmas for my sisters.

                      Lots of free samples I have collected - Rachel Bustin
Over the past few months I have recieved many free samples and small wins through the post, so today I thought I would take a piccy of the ones I have left that haven’t been eaten, drank, given away, planted or used in some other way!
The Coco Pops porridge sample only arrived a few days ago so I am looking forward to that one, as I’m a major chocoholic! I found this sample giveaway on Facebook. I normally find it very hard to win anything on there, I believe it’s because the volume of traffic on there entering competitions nowadays has grown tenfold. A few years back the chances of winning a competiton was relatively good! It just gives me more determination to try harder! My only other win from Facebook this year was back in January when I was a runner up in a Roots crisps competition, they were yummy!
Finding Free Samples
  •  Visiting your local department stores for health, beauty and makeup samples. If like me you don’t always wear makeup they are practically throwing them at you!
  • There are lots of freebie websites out there, so if you sign up, they send you emails each day with links to sample giveaways.
  • Some magazines giveaway new trial size products so keep an eye out when you go shopping!
  • With the increase of social media users nowadays lots of companies are giving away 100’s of samples to advertise their products. Facebook and Twitter are the best ones for this!

Most of the other samples are plant seeds, which for a huge gardening enthusiast like me are the best post arrivals ever! All the little white packets are herb seeds so I thought I would grow a little herb garden in some pots on my patio.

I would love to hear your thoughts on which are the best freebies you have ever recieved?
rachelbustin.com

 

7 Hints and Tips on Caring for Cacti

I love cacti. They are such an easy houseplant to look after. It doesn’t matter if you forget about them, for a week or two. They will still be there when you do remember you have them. 
Here are my 7 simple Hints and Tips on caring for cacti.
These are my cacti and succulents that live in the kitchen. I have grown most of them from other plants over the past few years. I have accidently knocked some of the sprouting parts off at one time or another, and with those parts I have stuck them into a bit of cacti soil from the garden centre and off they grow! They have grown into the most weird unusual shapes.
Cactus
Here are 7 hints and tips on how to care for your cacti:
  1.  If they live inside like mine water them a little once week so they don’t dry out. 
  2.  Cacti prefer well drained soil with a mix of grit, phosphorous and nitrogen.
  3.  Repot them once year if they are getting too big for their pots and to replace the soil.
  4.  When repotting protect your hands! 
  5.  Use small sponge blocks to grip the cacti when removing from the  pot.
  6.  Place them in the sun, for 4-6 hours a day (mine live on the windowsill).
  7. You can then watch them grow and they might even flower occasionally for you! 
I love cacti as they are perfect indoor plants for busy people. There are many different, shapes, sizes and types out there for you to collect, It can get very addictive!. Every year when we go on holiday to see family up in Derbyshire I mostly always end up finding a different type of cactus in one of the gorgeous garden centres up there to bring back home with me. I am running out of windowsill space!
Do you have any Cacti in your house?
 If not do you have any other houseplants?

 

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

3 Books and a Treat!

                            
I have my day off from work every Wednesday, so each week I pop round to my parents to collect my delivery wins. This is the most exciting day of the week for me as It’s like Christmas! I’m like a big kid opening my packages to see what’s inside. I always enter my parents address for delivery details as I’m never home to collect them. My mum always looks out for the postman everyday to see what he’s got for me. She is even now on a first name basis with him and they talk about my competitions and wins!
So these are my wins from the past week. I was a runner up in a Wagg pet food competition and I was able to choose whether I wanted cat or dog food treats. I don’t have a cat so I chose dog treats. The flavour is chicken and cheese! Sounds a bit of a weird combination to me!
The books I won are from Goodreads first reads giveways. I wrote about winning A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall in my blog post last Thursday and here it is in the top right of the picture. Its possible the cover will change once its properly published as this is an uncorrected bound proof copy. I can’t wait to get stuck into this one with a hot chocolate and some biscuits, I think I’ll start this book on Sunday while the husband is watching the first Formula 1 race of the season!
The other two books are the Lament of Sky by BB Wynter which is a dark, fantasy and very intriguing read. It came with a gorgeous little note by the author on the inside pages which I thing is a lovely cute personal touch. The third book is called The Traitors’s Mark and is written by D.K Wilson. It’s a historical Tudor mystery based on the death of Hans Holbein in 1543, which to this day is still an unsolved real Tudor mystery. Looks a fantastic read to add to my never ending lists of books to read!
Rachel xx

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Cooking Book Wins with Freezing Tips!

                 cooking and freezing tips
This is my collection of cooking book wins, from various Twitter competitions over the past 18 months. I have a huge sweet tooth and the recipes in these books are to die for. My favourite book out of the three is Freeze written by Justine Pattison. It’s one of the most useful books I own! It contains not only recipes but ways to make the most out of your freezer. Some of the top tips inside include different reasons to freeze. A couple of the reasons are you have less waste, which in turn saves you money and you have the flexibility to store various meals without extra supermarket trips, costing again less money!
I use my freezer like its going out of fashion! I freeze bread and only take out what I need, so it’s kept fresh and soft. On Sundays my husband and I do big batch cooking and make enormous cottage pies and lasagne’s to freeze for the coming week as we are both very busy with work. Sometimes when we have been out of the house for 12 hours or more its hard to get the motivation to start cooking a meal, so our freezer batches come in quite handy in these situations! 
Here is another top tip I recommend! If like me your freezer is not the biggest, and after a couple of tubs of ice-cream you have hardly any room whatsoever for anything moderately bigger than a chicken. Take all the outside cardboard packaging off all the food products and cut out the cooking instructions to place on the front of the fridge with magnet. Instantly you have room for that steak and ale pie that you slaved over by making the pastry by hand! Who needs all that extra cardboard on a box of ice-lollies? when you can slide them individually into gaps in the freezer drawers amongst the bag of frozen peas and turkey dinosaurs! So not only will you be saving money by using your freezer economically, but you will also be creating a wonderful colourful collage of bits of cardboard cooking times on your fridge-freezer! 
Rachel xx

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