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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Preparing The Front Verge For Lawn

Our front verge has been a sand pit for a few years as we have been renovating and working on the house exterior it has seen a bit of action from trucks and work vehicles driving over it and also building materials and skip bins being dumped out there. But now we have pretty much finished the renovations we can pretty up the front of the house and add some kerb appeal to the verge - namely laying a hardy sun loving lawn.

This weekend Mr P had a mate over to lend a hand and prepare the front verge for lawn by installing reticulation and sprinklers.

First things first we drew a very fancy technical plan (insert sarcastic voice here!) for the reticulation and worked out where the sprinklers would need to go to ensure all the lawn would be watered properly and there would be no dead spots.


Once the plan was drawn the lads used wooden markers and string line to mark out where each sprinkler would go.

We'll have a row of 4 sprinklers along the courtyard wall, a row of 4 sprinklers along the road and then a row of 3 sprinklers in the middle so they overlap and the lawn will get full coverage.




Once the design was pegged out the lads went to Bunnings to buy supplies - long lengths of 25mm PVC pipe, pop up sprinklers, fittings and glue. Because the verge will have cars drive on it occasionally we got flexible pop up sprinklers for along the road so if a car drives over them they will sink into the ground and not break (well here's hoping!)

Then out came the trenching shovel and trenches were dug and the retic pipes cut to size and laid in the trench with sprinklers and fittings attached with glue.

If you want to see a more detailed how to on setting up automatic reticulation check out this post from when we did our courtyard lawn.





We had to wait 2 hours for the glue to dry before we could turn on the water to check all the sprinklers worked okay and there were no leaks or problems - hooray all the sprinklers work!

The next day I helped Mr P cover all the trenches back in with sand, we mixed a pile of soil in with the sand, and then spent a few hours raking and leveling the verge as flat as we could so the lawn will have a good flat surface to sit on ..... Because nobody likes a lumpy bumpy lawn!





It rained for most of the afternoon and evening after we flattened the verge which is perfect because it has compacted the ground which helps to level it.

We will give it another rake and level before we lay the new lawn which we plan to do this coming weekend.

What do you have on your front verge .... Lawn? Plants? Veggie patch? Something else!


Sharing with link parties:
Curly Crafty Mom - The Creative Corner
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Southern Ruby By Belinda Alexandra

This is a book review of Southern Ruby by Belinda Alexandra that was recently published by Harper Collins Australia on 1 September 2016.

Belinda Alexandra is an Australian author who has written many historical and contemporary fiction novels set in exotic locations and likes to take her readers to another place in another time.


This is the story told by two strong female characters - Amanda who after her Nan dies and she has no family left in Australia decides to travel to New Orleans to meet the other part of her family she never knew she had. Grandmother Ruby shares her life story and history with Amanda helping her piece together who her parents were and where she came from.

The story flicks back and forth seamlessly between Granddaughter Amanda's present day discovery of New Orleans and Grandmother Ruby's past growing up in the 1950's in New Orleans at a time of sexism and racism. The story is constantly growing momentum it never slows down - from burlesque dancing to forbidden relationships between white and black lovers it covers it all.

I found it really interesting reading about the architecture, homes and buildings as well as before and during Hurricane Katrina which was an eye opener.

I wish I had read this book before my holiday to NOLA last year - it is true what they say of this author I was transported back to New Orleans, to the streets, the homes and the people through the words I read.

I recommend this book to modern fiction fans looking to discover the heart and soul of New Orleans.

I give this book 5 stars out of  5

Jarrah Jungle's Star Rating:
1 Bad - I'd rather eat brussel sprouts topped with anchovies than read this again
2 Not Good - I'd rather watch paint dry than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd give up a bottle of the worlds best champagne for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read


Southern Ruby can be purchased from the author here or Harper Collins Australia


Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley


Disclosure:  NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote authors and their books and I was given this ebook published by Harper Collins Australia to review. As always, all opinions are my own.


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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Recipe: Fish Poached In Coconut Sauce

I have made this fish dish poached in coconut milk and spices a few times now and it is the perfect way to cook fish. Poaching is a quicker method than a traditional curry but you still get a delicious flavour without the fish drying out.

This is a perfect mid week dinner it's quick to make, with just a few ingredients and is super tasty - the coconut sauce will have everyone begging for seconds guaranteed!


Fish Poached In Coconut Sauce

Serves: 4
Original recipe source: Taste (this is my tried and tested and amended version of the recipe) 

Ingredients
1 tin coconut cream
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp sambal oelek (chilli paste)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 brown onion, finely chopped
4 x fillets of firm fish, cut into small chunks

To serve
Spring onions
Fresh coriander
Steamed Rice
Vegetables (I add mixed vegetables green beans, peas, cauliflower and broccoli)

Method
1. In a large pan heat oil and fry garlic and onion for a few minutes. Next add sambal oelek and cook for a few minutes.

2. Add to pan a tin of coconut cream, finely grated lemon zest and juice, fish sauce and brown sugar and turn up heat to bring to the boil, stirring often.  

3. Reduce heat to low and put the lid on and cook for about 20 minutes so flavours come together. 

4. Add fish and simmer gently, put the lid on and cook for about 10 minutes until fish is cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, cook steamed rice and vegetables (I add my vegetables to my rice cooker half way through and they cook perfectly).

When ready to serve spoon the rice into a bowl, top with vegetables, the fish and sauce and don't be shy about ladling on some extra spoonfuls of the delicious sauce, top with spring onions and fresh coriander.  Enjoy!

What's your favourite way to cook fish?


Sharing with link parties:
Curly Crafty Mom - The Creative Corner
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays



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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Cookbook Review + Preview: Food52: A New Way To Dinner By Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

This is a book review and sneak preview of Food52: A New Way To Dinner - A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs that is due to be published by Ten Speed Press on 18 October 2016.

Amanda Hesser has been a food columnist and editor at the New York Times for more than a decade and has written a number of cookbooks. Merrill Stubbs is a freelance food writer and editor and runs her own catering business.  Amanda and Merrill are the co-founders of food52.com and they both live in Brooklyn with their husbands and children.


This cookbook shows you how to plan meals, food shop and cook base dishes on one day and then turn those dishes into meals for the week ahead.

This is an ideal cookbook for anyone that likes to meal plan and prepare meals ahead and be an organised home cook.


There are menus for the 4 Seasons of the year which is a good way to save money buying produce in season is less expensive and it's always fresher and better quality when in season.

There are 2 menus for each Season as well, one by Amanda and one by Merrill.

I menu plan for the week ahead but would really like to start getting more organised with my planning so that I prepare some of the dishes ahead of time to make it easier for mid week meals. This cookbook is just what I need to do this.


Whilst this is an American cookbook the ingredients look like they can be found here in Australia pretty easily.

I found the recipes very easy to follow with simple set out with instructions.

As well as recipes there are lots of tips for storing, freezing and reheating meals as well which will be necessary to do if you are cooking mostly on one day for the week ahead.


I watch a cooking show on Foxtel - Rachel Ray's Week In A Day where she shows you how to cook all your meals ahead for the week in just one day - 1 day of cooking for 5 days a eating. I'm so happy to now have a similar cookbook which has the same concept as I can refer back to the cookbook and hope it will inspire me to give this method a try.

My only gripe is that I would have loved to have this cookbook in hardcopy format as it would be much easier to follow, read and cook from than this e-book version.

I recommend this cookbook to busy people who want to meal prep and cook the bulk of their meals in one day and enjoy stress free meals during the week.


I give this book 4 stars out of  5

Jarrah Jungle's Star Rating:
1 Bad - I'd rather eat brussel sprouts topped with anchovies than read this again
2 Not Good - I'd rather watch paint dry than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd give up a bottle of the worlds best champagne for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read


Food52: A New Way To Dinner can be purchased from the authors here or Ten Speed Press - Penguin Random House


Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley


Disclosure:  NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote authors and their books and I was given this ebook published by Ten Speed Press to review. As always, all opinions are my own.


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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Springing Into The Last House Projects

I can't believe that it is now Spring (or Fall on the other side of the world) and this also means there are just 4 months left of 2016 ....

Seriously where has the year gone?!


I have been reflecting on how the year is going so far and it has been the most relaxing and restful year for Mr P and I with no engagement party or wedding to plan this year! We have also been doing less home renovations as we are coming to the end of our home improvement projects which is a great feeling to be able to enjoy the changes we've made to our home over the years. It is our 7th year in the Jarrah Jungle home this month!

I have also been thinking about my word for 2016 which was CHANGE and I feel that I've been embracing the word as much as I can!


As the countdown to the end of the year is looming I do have a few home goals I'd love to finish in 2016. The last big renovating projects are the exterior gardens - namely, the courtyard at the front of the house and the deck at the back of the house.

The courtyard is pretty much done I'd say it's about 60% complete

We are just waiting for a run of sunny days (which we hope to have soon now that Spring is here!) so that we can seal the pavers and then we can add the outdoor furniture, build a bench seat, build a privacy screen for the rubbish bins, install the shade sail, add some pots and plants and finish planting out the vegetable and herb garden.

I can't wait to have the courtyard garden finished so I can sit outside in the sunshine with a book and enjoy this outdoor space!


The deck project in the backyard is at the final design stage

We have a long way to go but I'm hopeful to have the work underway and commenced before Christmas even if it's not finished by then.

We have designed the deck which is always the hardest part working out what you want to do with the space. Next we found a Draftsman to draw up a professional design for us and it is now with a Structural Engineer to draw a plan which we can submit to our Local Council for approval.

The deck design includes retaining walls, a new fence, a patio and a lawn area for our furbaby Lexi. It would be amazing to have this built in the next few months so we can enjoy Summer parties and BBQs in our new and improved outdoor entertaining space!


We do have some small projects to finish but I'm not sure if 
we'll get them all done this year ....

  • Plaster and re-paint the ceiling in the living room and master bedroom (as we have raised sagging ceilings in these rooms)
  • Hang and paint a new door in the hallway
  • Find and hang a new exterior door in the laundry
  • Wallpaper the back of the door leading into the garage

A much smaller to do list now that we are in our 7th year of renovating!

There may only be 4 months left of 2016 but I'm going to make them count and it's time to come out of the Winter hibernation and into the Spring sunshine!

How is your to do list for the year going so far ?


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Monday, September 5, 2016

Book Club Book Review: The Night Circus By Erin Morgenstern

This is my book review of the August book club pick The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This book was also voted at #23 by Dymocks Booklovers in the Top 101 for 2015.


This is a magical story set back in the late 1800's and early 1900's about a travelling circus called Le Cirque des Reves.

The story is based around two young illusionists Celia and Marco who are contestants and need to compete to prove who is the best magician.

There are a lot of characters in the book who take turns to narrate and the story flicks back and forward through time telling the story through different characters perspectives and whilst it was a little confusing it was needed to bring the story together and so the reader understands how the circus existed.

The circus tents, performers, shows and food stalls are all described beautifully and so well that I really felt like I was at the circus amidst all the excitement and magic.

This is in no way a romance story but my favourite part was the love connection and the intensity that was built up particularly in the beginning of the story.

I felt the story was too drawn out and long and it became a little tedious in the end which is why I have scored it in the middle.

I recommend this book to all ages who are in love with the magic and excitement of the circus.


I give this book 3 stars out of  5

Jarrah Jungle's Star Rating:
1 Bad - I'd rather eat brussel sprouts topped with anchovies than read this again
2 Not Good - I'd rather watch paint dry than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd give up a bottle of the worlds best champagne for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Options For A Dog Friendly Backyard Deck

I'm so excited we are planning our next renovation project - building a deck in the backyard.

As we are subdividing the block and putting in a new retaining wall and fence the easiest way for us to build the deck is to have the deck go right up to the new retaining and fence so the entire backyard is decked.

This will give us heaps of deck space and it will all be at one level. But the only problem we have with this deck design is our furbaby Lexi .... 



We aren't sure how our beloved dog Lexi will find going from a massive open backyard to dig, run, roll around in and a place to do her business to a completely hard surface area which is all deck.

We do have our front courtyard garden which has lawn which Lexi loves but she spends most of her day in the backyard as it's more secure and private.


We have 2 options we are considering for the deck design ..... 

OPTION 1: ARTIFICIAL TURF ON TOP OF DECK

If we do deck the whole backyard I've seen artificial turf used for dogs to do their business on which is laid across the deck in a designated area.

This could be a good option if Lexi does her business on the artificial turf.


The artificial turf will be similar to dog training trays but on a much bigger scale.

Lexi was already house trained when we rescued her from the RSPCA and I don't think we will have too much trouble training her to do her business in a certain area.

I don't know whether it would stain/damage the deck over time but to be honest the thing I'm most concerned about is the smell ... I don't want the lingering smell of dog wee around at our BBQ dinners on the deck!
There are lots of different types of artificial turf on the market nowadays and some is even geared towards being pet friendly so it drains and is easy to keep clean.

We would need to be able to clean the artificial turf regularly so the smell isn't an issue for this to work.


OPTION 2: SUNKEN COURTYARD WITH LAWN

The other deck design idea is to shorten the deck and have steps or a ramp leading down to a small courtyard with lawn.

This will make the deck space smaller but it might be a nice feature to have and it will be much better for Lexi to do her business on real lawn.


Of course once the deck is built Lexi will also need a new space for her food, water and bed and I'm already trying to convince Mr P to build Lexi a doghouse!

There are some great ideas on Pinterest for DIY dog beds .... I've even started a new pet friendly board on Pinterest!


There are lots of things to consider for our new deck and backyard area and we want to plan ahead and get it all right before we pull out the tools and start to build!

Do you have a paved / decked backyard area? 
How do your pets like it?


Sharing with link parties:
Curly Crafty Mom - The Creative Corner
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

The Plumbette - Home Improvement Thursdays

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