Joelene_tnJoelene Pynnonen says: Money drips through your fingers like water in Sydney. After shopping in Brisbane, Sydney feels like a surfeit. The stores are bigger, there are more of them and there are sales everywhere.



hachettesydney2014 015Bel and I were lucky enough to meet up with Jorge from Spotlight Report during our visit. Because of his local expertise, I discovered two stores that were probably my favourite part of the trip. Utopia is the self-proclaimed Home of Metal, and lives up to its name. The staff are friendly and almost scarily knowledgeable about the local and International Heavy Metal scene. Within twenty seconds of me asking, they had found a reasonably priced album for my incredibly hard to buy for baby brother.

The other store Jorge told me about is one that I will be visiting every time that I go to Sydney in the future. Basement Books is buried in a passageway out behind Central Train Station. At first glance it looks like a little hole-in-the-wall bookstore. As you get closer, however, it expands into a verifiable Aladdin’s cave of wondrous things. The store stocks a wide range of art supplies and canvasses as well as books of every major genre. All at unbelievable discounts. Obviously I spent my time there combing through the fantasy and YA sections. Had my luggage allowance been more extravagant, I dread to think of how badly my credit card would be suffering right now.

hachettesydney2014 034After a five-hour day at Paddy’s Markets, my cards were depleted enough. For anyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit Paddy’s Markets, it is one of the places to go in Sydney. A labyrinth of stalls selling all sorts of things, everyone is bound to find a bargain here. From costumes to unusual pieces of jewellery, fresh fruit to ornamental swords, handbags to Australian memorabilia; Paddy’s has it all. Located in the heart of China Town, it is a short distance from the beautiful Chinese Gardens and is surrounded by some wonderful Asian restaurants. Bubble tea is also abundant, so there are many and varied reasons to visit.

There are a lot of great things to buy in Sydney, but it is also a beautiful city. I’d recommend walking rather than catching a bus or taxi. There are some truly amazing churches and old buildings that you may miss out on if you’re in a rush.

isabella rose taylorIsabella Rose Taylor

Isabella began creating fine art when she was 3, sewing at 8, and by the age of 13 she had a clothing line contract deal with Nordstrom.

The girl knows how to dream big and stand her ground when her business advisors may be steering her in a direction she’s not be comfortable travelling.

Biography-wise there’s not a lot of information available, but there’s a TEDx talk worth watching.

Isabella’s also on all the social media platforms, and her website is wonderful.


There’s also a Dwen session which is rather enlightening.


Cecilia Cassini

cecilai cassiniCecilia Cassini is now 14 but began re-purposing clothing and sewing her own designs at age 6. She was followed around by a German film crew for the TV show Confessions of a Fashionette for the Style Network at age 12.

This young lady is extremely community minded, donating clothing for less fortunate kids to have a great outfit on their first day of school. A percentage of her Trunk show profits goes to homeless shelters.

When she’s not aiming for A’s in school she’s designing clothed for Hollywood’s A listers. Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus and Kelly Osbourne are just a few celebrities she’s dressed.

There is quite possibly even less information about this dedicated young woman online, but I have a strong suspicion we’ll be hearing more about her in the near future.

Here’s an old clip of her debuting on the Today Show.


Lisa-Smith_tnLisa says: This recipe is perfect for those days, when you’re really busy or when you just don’t feel like standing in the kitchen all day! I usually have some potato salad to go along with these delicious ribs, but of course you can do it your way! Enjoy!



  • Baby Back ribs
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar


This is honestly one of the easiest recipes ever, just make it in the morning, and have it ready for dinner!

In a small bowl combine the ketchup, barbeque sauce and brown sugar.

In your crock pot, season your ribs with salt, pepper and garlic powder; as much or as little as you like!

Brush your ribs with your ketchup mixture, making sure to use all of it! I know this mixture sounds a bit weird, but trust me, it’s REALLY good!

On high, allow your ribs to cook for about six hours, checking in every once in a while. Once your ribs are completely cooked, and falling apart, add some more barbeque sauce, and they’re done!

This recipe is perfect for those days, when you’re really busy or when you just don’t feel like standing in the kitchen all day!

I usually have some potato salad to go along with these delicious ribs, but of course you can do it your way! Enjoy!

Mandy Wrangles_2_tnUp, Up and Away (almost!). I’m going on an adventure. Well, not just me. My whole in-law family – sixteen Wrangles in one place. Eight adults and just as many children. Could be scary, but definitely fun.



hot dogsWe’ve been counting down to this big trip for years and years now; we wanted to wait until the youngest grandchild was old enough to remember the holiday of a lifetime. Problem was, we all just kept on having kids. These days, the youngest family member is almost six and the oldest nudging his late 60′s.

So where are we off to? The United States. Yep, Disneyland, New York, Vegas and Hawaii with a few more stops in between. I’ll be blogging my way around, testing plenty of iconic food, and reporting back here. I’m looking forward to the Hot Dogs (and corn dogs) in Central Park, as well as checking out the famous New York cronut. Clam Chowder in San Fransisco, tacos in San Diego.

So who’s got some tips for me? We’ll be checking out plenty of street food as well as some fine dining. What fabulous American food must I absolutely try?


Bel and J_Hachette Photo Book PicThe Laini Taylor event at Hachette Australia.

Joelene and I walked the 50 or so steps to the event from our hotel early and were pleasantly surprised to see we weren’t the only bloggers to turn up early. We jumped in the lift and scooted to the correct floor, and were met with a wall of awesome books, separated into colours and spelt out Read.

We were whisked away into the room where the event would be held and was greeted by Ashleigh and a handful of other wonderfully cheerful people who have quite possibly the best job in Australia. We were handed drinks, encouraged to eat up big from the snack tables (savory and lollies) and partake in the photo booth set up for the evening.

There was a book hunt around the room, which was scattered with bookshelves boasting some of Hachette’s best books on the market. There was a questionnaire to be filled out for the chance to win a lucky door prize and we all wracked our brains as to what our favourite book of all time was.

We were encouraged to tweet about the evening with the hashtag #dabdaenight and by the conclusion of the event 5 winners were picked from the room for an extra goody bag to say thank you, and our little event was trending on twitter, so the girls that won it must have been burning up their smart phones.

Before we were introduced to Laini we were given a lovely spiel about some of the newly released books from Hachette and books to watch for in the near future.

Now came Laini. The pictures on the back of her books do not do that hair colour justice. It is high vis, neon, highlighter PINK! Her dress had VW beetles on it and you know what, I think it is just perfectly wonderful. Laini is no stuffy woman to be left in a corner, though she spoke of having to escape to hotels to finish writing Dreams of Gods and Monsters, so perhaps she’s able to hide when she needs to.

There were questions from the bloggers and then the line up began for the signing. Laini even ducked away to the photo booth a couple of times with a few of the bloggers.

Joelene and Bel smThe one writer’s tip I took away from the event was to finish what you start. Laini has a big heart and a great sense of humour.

On our way out, we were handed our goodie bags  as a thank you from Hachette for attending the event, as if getting to walk the halls of Hachette and meeting Laini Taylor wasn’t already enough.

Included in the bag was Advance copies of Holly Black’s book (due later in 2014) The Darkest Part of the Forest, and Jessica Sorensen’s book, The Secret of Ella and Micha. Jessica is touted as the queen of teen romance, and as the book mark we got in with the pack states, Jessica is a New York Times Best Selling Author.

There were  other delightful things to be found in the goody bag as well. Nail polish and a tinted lip balm from Natio. A tube of Lanolips, a can of Cedel dry shampoo, and a pouch of facial wipes from Natural Organic rounded out the beauty products.

SONY DSCThen for a snack there was a box of the most delicious cookies ever from Spotted Cow Cookies in the flavour White Chocolate and Macadamia, and Jelly Belly  jellybeans had supplied us with a couple of bags of jellybeans. Om nom.  This was all topped off with a few Date a Book badges from Hachette and was all presented in a beautifully sturdy calico bag with Hachette Australia emblazoned on the front pocket. 

All in all, I adored the event and the people at Hachette were perfectly delightful. They all love their job and I would say we are all jealous of their success at one of Australia’s leading publishing houses.

Thank you for inviting us Ashleigh. We hope to be invited to attend another event soon. You and your team made a dynamic and memorable event.

Y’all are made of awesome!

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