Belinda_kisses_tnWith a little over 2 weeks to go I’ve been brushing up on the things I’ll need to have with me in Sydney.


Taylor_Smoke and Bone_HThey see me rollin’ – I needed to get myself a new piece of luggage, something that will roll around the city with me until check in. So I opted for 4 wheels rather than 2 and for ease of recognition at the luggage claim I went for loud and obnoxious leopard and bright pick with gold hardware. Hope nobody else had the same idea as me.

In the know  – I don’t want to be holding up the line in the airport, so I have checked what I can and cannot take in my carry-on luggage and the weight limits of both carry-on and checked luggage.  Each company is different so it’s always better to check.

Hair we go – I’m trying a whole new style clothing, and my modern hair style haircut doesn’t really go with. So I’ve been trial running how I want to have my hair for the event. *add youtube link for part 1 here* I’ve shown you how I put my hair up in perm rods to create a wet set curl. Part 2 soon.

Kiss and Make Up – I’m trying a few new products for the trip and I’ll have reviews of them on Marianne’s channel soon. Test running the completed look you want to wear will have the dual purpose of getting you practiced in how to apply the look in the shortest possible time, and also have you well versed in which tools and products you’ll need to take. *on my final run through I’ll be putting the items in a separate bag as I finish using them, so they don’t get mixed up and forgotten.*

Clothes horse… ney – I want to be comfortable and not schlumpy on the plane. So I’m testing out what I’m thinking of wearing. The shape wear was an EPIC fail so that will be staying at home. Nothing says discomfort like having to constantly pull and readjust an undergarment. I’ll keep the small podge and spend the day fiddle free.

Belinda_kisses_tnJoelene and I are Sydney bound next month, and we are tremendously excited. I thought I’d take you along on my journey to get my butt organised. *Please note all plugs are completely shameless, and I am only writing about the experiences I would recommend to friends*

Bel_lindy bop dress from ursalady#1 Up, up, and away – I looked it all up online, found the cheapest flights and the closest hotel to the event. *Holy COW it’s not cheap to travel by plane.* I then went to Escape Travel at Garden City and the lovely agent, Daniel, helped me book everything, including travel insurance. I pick up my tickets and stuff sometime this week. Thank you Daniel!

#2 Threads – Ebay has been my friend, though nothing can beat looking in bricks and mortar stores and trying things on. Kick ass Kirstin from Ursalady at Stones Corner suggested I try on a Lindy-Bop dress many had tried and nobody had fitted into as yet. I tried it, and not only did it fit, but it looked amazing. I will definitely be going back to Ursalady. Thank you, Kirstin!

#3 Hop to it – We have a few things booked to do while we’re over the border, the least of which is shopping, so comfortable shoes are a must have item. I haven’t been properly fitted for shoes since I was in primary school (Just a little while ago, huh?), so I treated myself to a trip to Gilmour’s Comfort Shoes at Mount Gravatt. The shoe fitter extraordinaire, Lisa, was saintly in her battle to fit my itty bitty tootsies. We found a beautiful pair of Ziera shoes (they’re named Babette) and, not only were they the last pair she had to offer me, but they were on sale.  Thank you Lisa!

#4 Hairs lookin’ at you, kid – Now comes the trek half a world away (I do exaggerate a little) to have my eyebrows tamed. I was devastated when my favourite beautician, Kelly, switched salons on me. S+S at Carindale. To keep the Jim Henson people away from me once the photos are posted online, I need the Muppet removed off my face. (Bert has to be my brother from another mother.) Kelly is gentle and thorough. Thank you Kelly!

#5 Hair today gone tomorrow – The last thing, besides packing obviously, will be getting my hair trimmed. Thankfully I’ve had a pretty wash and wear style for the past year (gone are those long tresses) so it’s just going to be a maintenance trip to I Heart Hair at Browns Plains, where I swear by the scissor skills and blade work  of Katharine. I am telling no lies, when I say Kat is only the 4th hair stylist in my 30 something years who can cut my hair correctly. I know she’ll make me look good. Thank you Katharine!

All we have to do now is wait. Pics and clips to come.

What do you to prepare for an exciting event?


I felt like I already knew these characters to a certain extent because we’d reviewed City of Ashes for the Burn Bright Book Club previously. I was pleased to see where their character arcs originated.

City of Bones is essentially about Jace and Clary finding one another and realising that you may not be able to pick your family, but you can certainly pick your friends. 

Cassandra Clare has me enchanted with her use of landmarks around New York, Brooklyn, and the surrounding areas. The unknown has always held some sort of magic to me and to have these places glorified in an enjoyable book makes both things more special.

The interesting bits will be to see how much the film, which is ‘based on’ this book, will be able to bring the chemistry between characters, the plausibility of the supernatural aspects, and the way the setting is allowed to speak for itself and isn’t just left as decoration.

I honestly hope Harald Zwart tries to keep the film as close to the book as he possibly can, though 500 plus pages will be difficult to contain within a standard film-length adventure.

Bring it on!

Paperback, Movie Tie-In, 506 pages

Published July 9th 2013 by Walker Books Ltd (first published 2007)

original title

City of Bones




Consider me blown away. The casting was spot on, the CGI and special effects department were well on top of things, and the fact that Cassandra Clare was part of the script writing process helped beyond measure.

The key plot points were dead on target and the slight changes were forgivable as long as you went into it knowing it’s a film ‘based on’ the book, not a close adaptation. If you are expecting a word for word recreation, you will not enjoy it, though many of the memorable quotes remain in the script.

Belinda_kisses_tnBelinda Hamilton interviewed our favourite teen mentor about her latest girl power project.


The rite of passage of having a Pen Pal seems to have died out with email and instant messaging. Was the Pen Pal Project 2014 an initiative with traditional paper and pens, or was it mostly electronic?

The Pen Pal Project 2014 exchange was electronic due to our limited working time frame–Monica Murphy, the girl’s teacher was in their village for only a few months.  Originally, we wanted to use traditional paper and pens; however, their mailing service would not allow our letters to arrive until weeks after we sent them. We wanted to communicate back and forth as much as possible, so we resorted to email. The only source of technology Monica had with her was an iPad. The girls read our emails and responded on the iPad one at a time, so we still received their authentic answers, and the iPad served as a learning tool for the girls as they experienced advanced technology. 




Most of the girls featured in the Vimeo clip look to be around 15. What are their biggest worries?

The girls’ biggest worries are very similar to young girls in the United States, as they were worried about their relationships with friends and family, social status, and getting good grades. Bullying is a big deal in Ghana; however, since the majority of them do not use social media, everything is done in person, which quickly results to violence. Another big issue that was discussed was the pressure to fit in. Just like here in the United States, the girls got excluded from groups of friends and felt that they were not good enough to socialize with the richer and more “elite” girls. 

What was the most difficult question you were asked?

It is so hard to choose the most difficult question I was asked because I was honestly so impressed at how intelligent and curious the girls were about serious issues. They wanted to know what leadership meant to me, how to become a leader, how they could have the opportunity to attend a University in the United States, etc… I even had to do some research for some of the questions, such as “How do I become the President of your country?” Their determination and drive was astonishing, and it makes me sad that these girls, who are already so intelligent and starving for an education, are deprived of it. Meanwhile, my peers here in America complain that their parents are “making them” go to college. It doesn’t seem fair.

 PenPal profect


What do you hope the PenPal project achieved?

I hope the PenPal project inspired these young girls to believe they can be anything they want to be, and they shouldn’t allow their background or current economic status to deter them from their dreams. I also hope it made them realize how bright and successful they already are, and that they should have confidence in themselves. Part of the purpose behind the PenPal project was also to inspire others in the United States and help them realize the beautiful and intelligent girls that are being deprived of a higher education in not only Africa, but other parts of the world as well. A lack of peer to peer mentorship is apparent. I can only imagine what these girls could achieve if they had positive mentorship on a regular basis. 

 Penpal project 2


What other projects are you involved in or do you plan to develop?

I am currently in Stoneham, Maine working at Camp Susan Curtis and giving Girl Talks to inspire the girls there to be kind to each other, confident in themselves, and to THINK before they speak, type, or text. This is my second year in Maine. I love seeing the message take hold as these girls find their Girl Power. My future plans are to organize a trip to meet my Pen Pal girls and continue our conversations. Although any type of positive communication and mentorship is a great opportunity for young girls, I always prefer to meet with them in person; I feel that it makes a larger impact. I am realizing this more and more as I work with the young girls here in Maine and develop meaningful relationships with them. I can’t wait to come back again next summer! Another project I am excited for is the release of my second book this fall titled “Kissing Frogs: In Search of Prince Charming.” This book is written for high school girls as they begin the dating process. My stories, lessons, and exclusive chapter “The Good Guys” written with J.K. Schaffer, linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, gives girls an insight to finding a good guy, aka prince charming! 

Lauren Galley



Rowling_HPPhilosophersStone_HI don’t think there is actually an official book trailer for this one; if there is, I couldn’t find it.

Now, I have a confession to make. Before this blog series, I had never really wanted to read these books, mainly because of the incredible hype surrounding them, so I came to the party over a decade late.

My first impressions are of a charming children’s story about a young boy who learns there is more to life than we can believe. I’m intrigued to see how the CGI and special effects will help or hinder this story’s transitions to the film medium.

I sniggered enough while reading on the bus that the driver nearly missed a green light because he was staring, waiting for me to tell him what was so amusing. 

The world building is fun and allows the characters to get up to plenty of mischief. The Quidditch games were fast-paced, as one would imagine them to be, and there is no way a film could down-play the excitement generated in the book and still remain a box office success.

I picked up my battered and bruised copy of The Philosopher’s Stone at Lifeline Book Fest in January for 50 cents, so I won’t make judgement on the cover.

Paperback, 223 pages

Published June 30th 1997 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published 1997)

ISBN 0747532745 (ISBN13: 9780747532743)


Let’s get on with watching the movie, shall we?

The Film


The film brought to life some of the more complicated moments in an extravagant way. Fluffy was a stand-out for me. Considering I came from the era of George Lucas experimenting with some of the first computer animations in film, this adaption was extremely entertaining. The use of green screen is becoming less and less obvious, and this really makes anything seem possible.

I was surprised to see some of my favourite actors/ comedians who include but are not limited to Zoe Wanamaker (My Family), Warwick Davis (Willow), and John Cleese (Fawlty Towers). There’s also an uncredited part played by one Zoe Sugg (Yep, Zoella was in it). It’s really no surprise that the box office was bursting at the seams when this film made its debut in 2001.

The verdict – I think I’ll go against the norm here and say the book was better, hands down. I did like the film; it was a rollicking good time, but I think the power of the page wins out here. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t want the dark elements to take over in something aimed at families, but I think those parts needed a bit more exposure.

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