January // Wrap-Up Post

real life updates
  • Hey Guys! I'm here to introduce my brand new feature for 2012. I felt my blog was lacking a little in personal interest so it'll be one of my main goals to improve on in the new year. Hopefully this post will not only inspire you to check out some of my recent blog posts but also a few of my favourite things around the interwebs. Be sure to also check out my feature on Friday Favourites whenever it decides to make an appearance.
  • In other news, I'm taking my first overseas trip EVER! YAY for LA. I'm planning to hit up Disneyland and a few other places but most of all, I'd love to hear your recommendations on all things travel in the US of A.

new online discoveries
  • Pinterest - I'm pretty sure if this were the only website in the world, I'd be pretty happy. Basically it's got a whole other level on We Heart It which happens to be one of my previously adored photography websites but now I find myself spending all my time categorizing to my hearts content at none other than Pinterest. Don't ask me how to pronounce the name but basically, it's a dream board gone wild. Get ready for an extreme hit of inspiration.
  • TripAdvisor - The best and worst website for pre-travel arrangements. The fact that basically every attraction/hotel/restaurant has both glowing reviews and terrible ones, makes it almost impossible to decide on what to add or remove from my must-see list anyhow it's still holding my interest and actually inspiring me to visit so many more places around the world.
  • The Dainty Squid - This girl has inspired me in so many ways since first discovering her fashion minded blog. Basically, she chats about her everyday life in the most interesting of ways and I aspire to be like her on a daily basis because she manages to update just about every 12 hours and her content is always worth reading.

books recently read
  • Beautiful Creatures (Caster Chronicles #1) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl - I always tread very carefully when it comes to paranormal novels. They seem to either be hit or miss with me and this one just happens to be a big winner. No wonder it's got 40,000 raving reviewers on Goodreads. 
  • Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey - I'm really glad I finally got around to reading this one, it's an insight into the life of a female comedian and how she managed to get so damn popular. Plus it's extremely entertaining. 
  • Never Have I Ever (The Lying Game #2) by Sara Shepard
  • Amazing Grace by Megan Shull - This one didn't exactly win me over but at least it was extremely fast-paced. If only it were a little more complex :S

movies most enjoyed
  • Chalet Girl (2011) - Surprisingly entertaining despite the ever so corny film poster. Although, I'm still not keen on ever attempting to ski again.
  • The King's Speech (2010)
  • Hugo (2011) - Does anyone else find it unusual to see this film winning over both critics and fans alike? I actually thought this one was a little quirky but anything with Chloe Moretz in a starring role can win me over pretty easy.
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
  • The Descendants (2011) - As a fan of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I was stoked to see Shailene Woodley in her first feature film but this movie goes on to be so much more amazing than I anticipated. I'm pretty sure this one will be ranking with my best of 2012 list even though it's only January.

Fave Blog Posts
Daily Dose // National Popcorn Day
Bookish Recommendaiton: 5 Year Q&A Diary
The Best of 2011 // Books, Music, TV & Movies
How Many Books Will You Be Reading In 2012?
Recipe // DIY Smoothie Cubes
all i'm thankful for ♥
quirky recipes // cool gusts of wind // diy craft tutorials // miniscule advertisement earnings // calorie counters // amazon // the sunday newspaper // high interest rates // dog walking // ebay // non-bookish blogs // creative outlets // gravy // using my free time for reading // opi nail polish // blase travel buddies

Recipe // DIY Smoothie Cubes

Today, I'm stepping a little bit out of the norm in terms of blog topics with a fun and fruity recipe. I was inspired to create my own version of Smoothie Cubes while browsing my newest obsession, Pinterest (follow me here).

You may have spotted a rather expensive variety of frozen smoothie cubes at your local supermarket. Basically, the idea is to have yoghurt and frozen fruit in convenient cubes for creating a breakfast smoothie.

I scoured the kitchen for fruits suitable for use and came up with frozen berries and a very ripe banana. If tempted to make this recipe again, I'd be very keen to try out different  flavour combos but for now I'm steering clear of the ruby red apple and lemon, I found at the bottom of the refrigerator.

Simply place a heaped tablespoon of yoghurt in each muffin tin and top with desired fruit. Cover with cling wrap and pop in the freezer overnight.

Smoothie Cubes

What You'll Need:
- Texas Muffin Tray
- Cling Wrap

Very Berry Smoothie
1/2 Cup Fresh or Frozen Berries
3 Tablespoons Vanilla Yoghurt

Banana Bash Smoothie
1 Ripe Banana, Sliced
3 Tablespoons Passionfruit Yoghurt
3 Teaspoons Honey


  1. Scoop a tablespoon of yoghurt into each muffin tin.
  2. Top with desired ingredients.
  3. Cover with cling wrap and pop in freezer overnight. 

Once frozen solid, pop out of muffin tray for use in a mixer with added oats and milk or simply juice on it's own. Freeze any leftovers in a zip lock bag.

Daily Dose - Australia Day

I love that so many people have taken this meme under their wing and are enjoying the theme. It's brilliant to pop over to random blogs and catch some inspiring images. If you'd like to participate in Daily Dose, simply pull together some images you find magical and hope to inspire your readers with, then share the link below.

All images found on We Heart It!

Daily Dose - National Popcorn Day

Believe it or not, there is a whole day devoted to the awesomeness of popcorn. And today, just so happens to be that day. Hope you enjoy this feature, if you do... feel free to participate by pulling together some of your favourite images to inspire your readers then share the link below.

All images found on We Heart It!

Redesigning My Blog: Voting Now Open

Calling all web design experts and frequent blog readers! Once again, I am itching for a new layout and have scoured the web in the hopes of discovering a freebie but as others have documented, there just aren't many worthy layouts to be found.

I did manage to track down a few budget sites that seem to have a pretty good range and I've narrowed down the options to the final two you see below but I just can't seem to make the decision of which would be better suited to my blog. 
Let me know your opinions in the poll below and hopefully you'll see the winning layout displayed here in a few days time.

Which Blog Design Do You Prefer?
Blog Layout A  Blog Layout B    
pollcode.com free polls 

Review: Wherever Nina Lies

Title: Wherever Nina Lies
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Genre: YA, Mystery
Source: Library
Release Date: Feb 1st 2009
Buy the BookAmazon

My ThoughtsWith three simple words, this novel can easily be described: road-trip, romance and mystery. All of which make Lynn Weingarten's debut effort sound as fun and carefree as any other book available in the teen section but what sets this one apart is the suspense that takes ahold of you at the mid-way point. I found it almost impossible to set this one down once the action and adventure had begun, I am surprised to say that the real mystery buried beneath these pages left me in awe. 

Meet Ellie. She's pining for the return of her sister. After two years of misery, she's almost ready to give up on the search until a image belonging to Nina is discovered in a nearby thrift store. The clue leads Ellie to a house party where her sister once displayed artwork. Now yearning for her return more than ever, Ellie runs into Sean who initially seems like the perfect comfort but ultimately takes her out a longwinded road-trip for many more clues. 

Once again, I was slightly bothered to find a Young Adult novel displaying overworked and uninterested parents. I can see how this would aide in the flow of the characters and their plot but just once, I would like to flip through the pages of a novel to find wonderfully realistic and caring parents. I also felt the ending was not as tightly wrapped up as I'd like and as there will not be a sequel at this point, I'm pretty sure my woes will not be answered. 

Overall, I was amazed by just how much I enjoyed this novel and wish I'd picked it up earlier. I can't wait to see what the author has in store for us with her next novel, The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers.

In My Mailbox #83

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, feel free to participate by sharing the books you received in your mailbox this week!
Swap / Bought

Q: Which of these books would you read first?

Bookish Rec: Q&A Diary

How cute is this little diary? I could hardly resist buying it off Amazon just a second ago. A very momentous event as it's my first purchase from the website so now I'll be able to share my YA book reviews with their community. Yay!

I would never have discovered this book if it weren't for a brilliant post by The Dainty Squid so I'm also going to pay it forward in the hopes of others also loving the idea behind this book, just like I did.

Basically, it's a five year journal for those of us who are lacking creativity. There is a question for each day of the year and the opportunity to answer each question five times, over a number of years. Imagine reading back your answers in 5, 10 or even years time and spotting the changes in opinion. Or better yet, imagine the next generation discovering this little book in years to come and being wonderfied at the differing answers.

A Sample of the Questions:
Q: What's your favourite television show?
Q: What's a new place you've recently been to?
Q: What's the oldest thing you're wearing today?
Q: What are you reading right now?
Q: What "type" of person are you?
Q: What motivated you today?

Is anyone else completing a diary similar to this? I've been inspired by the many list-making books out in the world right now and even thought about buying a travel journal just the other day but I think this will fill my creativity quota for now. Let me know of your experiences :)

♥ holly

The Best of 2011 - Music, Books, TV & Movies

Two-Thousand and Eleven has been an absolutely awesome year in entertainment. I've discovered so many new great TV shows and I've been slowly working my way through my hugh reading pile. Most of all, I'd like to see a major catch-up of the best in music from this year but overall it's been a great year. Thank you 2011 for being a delight!

The Best Books Read in 2011
1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
3.Across the Universe by Beth Revis
4. Divergent by Veronica Roth
5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Why? For anyone out there who has still not read The Hunger Games, you do not know what you're missing out on. It's the number one book I'd recommend to non-readers and I can't believe it's taken me this long to finally pay attention to all the recommendations I received for this title. I'm more keen than ever to finally see the movie in just a few months time. Are you ready for the mania?

A close second is The Wolves of Mercy Falls series which was utterly captivating and I almost want to go back and read those books right now. I fell in love with the characters and I even got the chance at meeting the author a couple months ago, woohoo! 

It seems like this is the year of dystopia, not only for me but for many others too. There have just been so many great books in this genre released lately and I can't wait to check out more. For a faithful fan of contemporary, it's a really great juxtapose for when I'm feeling edgy!

The Best Albums of 2011
1. I Am The Avalanche - Avalanche United
2. City and Colour - Little Hell
3. Bayside - Killing Time
4. Adele - 21
5. Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

Why? It seems like I've been anticipating the new IATA record for years and now that it's finally hear, I couldn't be more happier. It's everything I expected and more. 

We also have one album that doesn't really seem to fit in with the others... Adele. From being entirely captivated with her voice from first listen to never being able to escape her misery on the airways, this lady has totally won me over in the best of ways. To say Australia is keenly awaiting a tour is a major understatement!

Unfortunately, I'm still catching up on many more highly anticipated albums most notably Neighbours by Blink-182 so hopefully they'll be jumping up my ipod playlist rather soon.

The Best Songs of 2011
1. Ed Sheeran - The A Team
2. I Am The Avalanche - Brooklyn Dodgers
3. Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
4. Jessica Lea Mayfield - Our Hearts Are Wrong
5. City and Colour - Fragile Bird

Why? I haven't really been listening to as much music these days and it's probably due to all the time I spent reading this year. I'm a little bit ashamed to say my favourite song of the year was discovered on radio which is very unusual for me and thanks to the constant on-air time this song received, I've been able to hear it just as much as I'd like to.

A little bit out of the ordinary for me, is Jessica Lea Mayfield's Our Hearts Are Wrong which was actually first heard on one of my favourite tv shows for this year. It took me a little bit to get used to the uniqueness of the song but it's now more than regularly played on my ipod.

The Best Movies of 2011
1. Crazy, Stupid, Love
2. The Help
3. Source Code
4. Horrible Bosses
5. Super 8

Why? I saw so many movies this year, probably more than I ever have before and all due to the wonderful movie madness challenge. Unfortunately not many of those films had an official release date of 2011 so they weren't included on this list but I can say Crazy, Stupid, Love was awesome. I can't wait to re-watch this one and see if it's just as a good the second time around.

Also starring Emma Stone, is another favourite The Help which took me totally by surprise but more than anything Horrible Bosses brought the laughs.

The Best TV Shows of 2011
1. Parenthood
2. Once Upon A Time
3. The Secret Circle
4. Modern Family
5. Slide

Why? I can clearly remember spending many nights staying up late just to catch the latest episode of Parenthood so it is easily awarded my favourite of the year. It may be a tiny bit daggy but reminds me of a nice mix between Brothers & Sisters VS. 7th Heaven. I'm pretty confident I never would've looked twice at this show if it weren't for the awesome Lauren Graham and her starring role.

I also must make note of the many fall tv premieres I fell in love with this year, they have provided me with hours of entertainment and I can't believe I've never come across this phenomenon previously.

Q: What Are Your Highlights In Entertainment for 2011?

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Genre: Memoir, Humour
Source: Review Copy
Release Date: April 5th 2011
Buy the Book: Amazon

My Thoughts:
For many weeks, I was puzzled to see Tina Fey's memoir sitting atop the New York Times Best Seller list so finally I cracked open the spine to see what all the fuss was about. I ended up discovering a purely enjoyable novel filled with direct honesty perfect for reading into the wee hours of the night against my better judgement.

It's truly remarkable to be able to say I finally enjoyed a novel (in recent times) outside of the YA genre and with such a curious cover image. As quoted by Tina's father on the topic: "I hope that's not really the cover. That's really going to hurt sales". And to be honest, I'm not even really that familiar with the author besides a few interviews on Letterman, her writer/actor role in Mean Girls and a failed attempt at being a fan of 30 Rock.

From the minute I hear of a novel made up with essays, I'm automatically deterred... just the thought of a certain topic being broken down and discussed in a report more commonly submitted at college is a major negative for me but luckily, Tina Fey has weaved together chapters in consecutive order from the most interesting stages of her life from first discovering her talent for improvisational comedy at a summer theatre program to her time at SNL as Sarah Palin and how motherhood has affected this all.

The only real negative I can find with Bossypants is the lack of laughs. I was expecting quite a few from a novel written by a comedian but what it lacks in laugh out loud humour, it makes up for in sly grins and eyebrow raisings. Tina regularly referenced topics I was rather unfamiliar with but it's done in such a manner of friendship that it's almost like having a conversation with a family friend.

Overall, I feel as I have a much better understanding of Tina Fey's hard-work and determination to do it all as a woman in a mans world. Well Done, Tina!

What Should I Read Next... YOU Decide!

After stopping by the library today, I have now found myself with multiple books to choose from all with differing deadlines and I just can't make the decision so I'm going to leave it up to the readers of my blog for a bit of a change.

First up, we have Mockingjay. I've been pushing myself to finish up The Hunger Games series before the film is released but it just doesn't look like it's going to happen. I'm only fifty pages in and for some reason the final book in this series is just not clicking with me. 

I felt like a bit of a change in my normal reading pattern so I went out on a limb and picked up Bossypants by Tina Fey which I am absolutely loving. At present, I'm about three chapters in and it's shaping up to be the best non-fiction book I've ever read. I can hardly wait to finish it off.

I also happened to get in a couple books at the library this week... Deadline, Uglies and Wherever Nina Lies.

If it weren't for the Random Reads meme which takes a haphazard book off your wish list and puts it at the top of your reading pile, I probably would never have ended up ordering in Deadline.

While I was browsing the shelves, I spotted a book I've been wanting to read for a very long time... Uglies. Unfortunately, on returning home, I realised I already have this book on order from The Book Depository.

And finally, Wherever Nina Lies which just looked like a bit of fun. I've seen it around a few blogs but I don't think it's topping any "best of" lists at this point.

25/01/12 - WHEREVER NINA LIES by Lynn Weingarten
25/01/12 - UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld
01/02/12 - DEADLINE by Chris Crutcher
22/03/12 - MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins
??/??/?? - BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey

I'm now questioning which book I should read first as I'm sure those pushed to the bottom of the pile won't get a chance at being read at all. Any suggestions?

How Many Books Are You Hoping To Read In 2012?

Hello 2012!
After an amazing year of completing exactly sixty books in 2011, I'm now totally stumped as to what I should set my next reading challenge at for 2012. What are you guys aiming to read? Is it better to aim really high or just set yourself a slight increase on your previous year...

Last year I aimed for 111 in 2011 which really just sounded cool and a few different people were doing the same challenge but I pretty much knew that was an impossible amount for me to reach but it was nice to try and aim high throughout the year wondering whether I was going to get anywhere near that huge number.

It's only really my third year of reading so intensely and actually paying attention to what's happening in the bookish world so I'm not really sure where to go from here.

Let me know how well you went with your reading goal for 2011 and where you will be setting your limits for 2012


Random Reads #1 - Rosebush

Random Reads Meme – Hosted by ImLovingBooks.com
"Basically it’s a meme where we pick a random book from our shelf to read. I’m using a combination of the sorting feature at Goodreads and Random.org to pick the book I’m going to include on my reading pile."
After spotting this meme over at Oodles of Books, I've been extremely keen to try out Random Reads as it looks like an extremely refreshing new way of discovering awesome books. I can hardly wait to see what will be pushed to the front of the pack after being long-forgotten. I may even attempt this feature next month with a few library requests to widen the choices even more.
I believe I added Rosebush to my collection more than a year ago with a trade through the Aussie Swap Group but I have no clue as to why it's still sitting unread at the back of my reading pile. I'm always on the lookout for the latest memory loss novels as I was a huge fan of Forgotten by Cat Patrick which deals with the same issue. The only reason I can pinpoint is possibily the rating score on Goodreads, with 3.68 it sits very far behind some of the more acclaimed novels with a strong 4+ rating. Hopefully I can work my way towards this one ASAP!

Q: What Books Have Been Sitting On Your Shelves Forever?

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