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Friday, July 25, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooked Chinese Chicken Hot Pot

I have made this Chinese Chicken Hot Pot in the Slow Cooker a few times now and find that not only is it a meal in itself served with the chicken, noodles and broth but the leftover broth can be reused as cooking stock for other Asian inspired dishes. It's a dish that keeps on giving!
The Slow Cooker makes the chicken so tender it literally falls off the bone and the broth is fragrant and full of flavour, paired together it's one mouth watering meal that takes very little effort and only one pot to wash, what's not to love about that!
Slow Cooked Chinese Chicken Hot Pot
Australian Women's Weekly: Slow Cooking Recipe Book
1 whole chicken
4 cups water
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups Chinese cooking wine or Sherry (I used Sherry)
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/3 cup oyster sauce
1/3 brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, bruised
6cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
3 star anise
1 tsp five spice
2 red chillis, chopped
1/2 bunch of Boc Choy
Thick egg noodles
Spring Onions
1. Put into the slow cooker water, stock, wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, star anise, five spice, chillis and give it a stir.
2. Wash chicken and add to slow cooker.
3. Turn on slow cooker, put the lid on and put on low for 8 hours. Turn chicken over a couple of times during cooking so the broth covers it and keeps it moist.
4. Remove chicken and pull meat off bones - it will pretty much fall off the bone it's so tender. Cover and keep warm.
5. Pour broth from the slow cooker through a sieve into a large bowl and then back into the slow cooker. You may need to do this twice to get a clear broth.
6. Add chopped boc choy to slow cooker, put the lid on and put on high for 5 minutes, or until tender.
7. Cook noodles per packet directions.
8. Place in a bowl the noodles and chicken and then pour broth over the top. Garnish with spring onions.
Enjoy this fragrant and tender chicken hot pot!
What are you making in the Slow Cooker?

Linking up with:
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
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[All images my own]

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

How To Lift A Sagging Ceiling

Over the weekend we gave our sagging laundry plasterboard ceiling a DIY lift with some metal plaster washers, also known as ceiling buttons.

This is our third attempt at lifting our ceilings and these washers were a quick fix and much cheaper than our initial DIY ceiling lift with bandings that we did in the Living Room or the option of replacing the entire ceiling like we did in the Kitchen.

Read on for a step by step how to on lifting a sagging ceiling

Most Australian homes built in the 1960s used bandings made from fibreglass rovings and plaster to hold the sheets of plasterboard ceiling onto the timber beams above in the roof space. Over time these bandings get covered in dust and dirt and break free thus resulting in the ceiling cracking, sagging and worse case scenario ceilings can give way and fall in causing one hell of a mess and a much bigger expense to fix!
For our Living Room a few years ago when we were new to the renovating game we attempted a DIY ceiling lift by attaching new bandings which we made from a bag of fibreglass rovings and plaster. We also had to hold the ceiling up with some timber supports we made, until they dried.
It was 2 days of hot and sweaty work to do the bandings in the roof space and the Living Room was out of bounds for about 5 days all up while it dried. Plus we spent about $100 on materials. It worked OK, the bandings held on but we found the supports were a bit forceful and needed to find a gentler solution to fixing our ceilings.
Our DIY Living Room ceiling lift
The old bandings in the roof which had come loose
For the Kitchen and Dining Room we had to go the whole hog and replace the entire ceiling which cost us $1500 and was done by our roof carpenter and Mr P.

There was no way around not getting a new ceiling for this room because of the changes we made when renovating, like knocking out the brick pantry which left a lot of holes to be patched and it was better for us to just get a new ceiling installed in here.
Our roof carpenter installing the new ceiling and cornices
As for the Laundry ceiling we decided to use these metal plaster washers which we found after many many many hours of research online. We bought them from Kilian Hardware in Philadelphia and got a bag of 500 washers for $40US delivered to us in Australia. You can find the washers here.

Of course we don't need anywhere near that many washers so have been happily handing them out to our neighbors, friends and family to fix their sagging ceilings with.

Kilian Hardware Co looks like a picture perfect old fashioned hardware store straight from a movie!

The washers are made for drywall but work just as well on plasterboard as we have discovered. They really are awesome little pieces of metal!

Here's how we lifted our sagging ceiling with the washers ....
Firstly, you need to find the roof beam so you have something to screw the washers into. We used a stud finder but didn't really like it because it kept on picking up the electric volts instead of the studs (and said stud finder has been returned to the place of purchase because it was more frustrating than useful!). Mark out your beams so you know where to drill into.

The other option of course is to just guess and drill holes which means you might end up with a few more holes to patch in the ceiling but at least you'll find the beams! Just take extra care of electrics and other things you may be drilling into!

Because the washers are counter sunk and the plasterboard isn't very flexible, you need to make a groove around where the washer will go so the plasterboard doesn't crack. It also helps the washer sit nice and flush. We made grooves in the plasterboard with a Stanly knife.
Then we were ready to drill in a screw and the washer. We put each washer about half a metre apart from each other. Because the washers are large they help to spread the load. They really do keep the ceiling in place, secure them well, and stop the sagging.
Next is to cover the washers with plaster so that nobody knows they are there. Because they are perforated this helps the plaster to stick and cover them as well. Once the plaster is dry, it can be sanded back and then painted. Job done!
Using these washers was such a quick fix and much cheaper than our initial DIY ceiling lift with bandings or the option of replacing the entire ceiling.

This is not a sponsored post I just want to share this great product so other Aussie sagging ceilings can get a cheap face lift if they need too!

Linking up with:
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Home Coming - The DIYers

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[All images my own - Other than image 5 Kilian Hardware]

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

For The Laundry - Blue Wash Wood Wallpaper

Since my wallpaper admiring spree a few months ago I actually made a decision and picked out this Blue Wash Wood wallpaper.

Being a Bargain Queen of course I didn't pay full price either, I managed to get it on sale for $37 (it RRPs for $69.95 at Masters).

Now that the new toilet is in and vanity and glass sink installed, I think with the mosaic splash back tiles I've chosen I'd like them to be the feature of the powder room and hanging wallpaper in here as well may take away from that.
So I'm going to use the wallpaper on one of the walls in the laundry, going with my original idea of wallpapering both the wall and the door that goes into the garage - the shoppers entry. We are hanging all new doors throughout the house, except for this door because it will be a custom order and too expensive, so a great way to disguise it's age and knocks and marks is with wallpaper.
Here are some of my favourite wallpapered walls and doors for inspiration ...
I like how these doors blend into the walls with the use of wallpaper and create a bit of a secret entrance!
What do you think of using wallpaper on both the walls and doors?

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[1st Image my own, Other images via Pinterest 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant by Owen Beddall

Random House Australia have invited me to take part in the blog tour for the recently published book Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant: True Tales and Gossip from the Galley by Owen Beddal that hit book stores on 1 July 2014.

Owen Beddal is Australian born and of Anglo-Aboriginal decent and has spent his time since 2001 living between London and Australia while working with Qantas airline until he retired last year after a workplace injury. This is Owen's first book - a memoir.

This memoir is a behind the scenes look at what goes on behind the closed doors of an aeroplane through the eyes of the author Owen during his 12 years working with Australia's favourite airline Qantas - the flying kangaroo.
The life of a flight attendant is not all glamour and lifestyle as you would imagine but it does have it's fair share of sex, gossip and celebrity sightings! On the flip side there's also annoying passengers, nightmare flights and long hours away from home. This book shows you the good and bad of being a flight attendant.

This book also delves into the Qantas brand and Qantas 'family' and how it has changed throughout the years. I found the insight into Qantas really interesting and think that Owen is very brave to write such a tell all about the company he worked for. The places all across the world that the flight attendants travelled to, where they stayed and partied at were really interesting too.
I love to travel but flying is not my favourite way to get there I get a bit nervous on planes (maybe why I love cruises so much!). So I have a lot of respect for flight attendants whose job it is to fly through the air and look after all the passengers on board, all the while looking bright eyed and fresh faced with a smile on their face.
I recommend this book to anyone who has dreamed of becoming a flight attendant - this will tell it like it really is and then you can decide if it is still your dream! Also anyone who loves to travel this is a great insight into many port stops around the world.

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 re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant can be purchased from Random House Australia here

Sharing my book review on Random House here and Good Reads here

Disclosure: Random House Australia and NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote their book and I was given this eBook published by Random House Australia to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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[Image via Random House]

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooked Old Fashioned Curried Sausages

I always have sausages of some kind in the freezer, I buy quality sausages from the butcher, there's lots of different flavours to choose from and you can make a fairly cheap meal from them.
I used some little pork chipalatas that turned out great in this old fashioned curried sausages recipe. I've made this both in the Slow Cooker and on the stove top but find the Slow Cooker better as it makes the food a lot more tender.
Slow Cooked Old Fashioned Curried Sausages
Australian Women's Weekly: Slow Cooking Recipe Book
500g of quality thick sausages - I used pork chipalatas
480g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
1 brown onion, sliced
5 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tbs curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
Fresh parsley, chopped
1. Brown sausages in pan, add sliced onion, curry powder, cumin, coriander and paprika and stir until fragrant.
2. Add mix to slow cooker and stir in tomatoes, stock and potatoes.
3. Turn slow cooker to low and cook with the lid on for 8 hours.
4. Just before ready to serve, stir in the peas, fresh parsley and season with salt and cracked pepper. Cook for a few minutes on low with the lid off.
5. Meanwhile cook rice to serve (I added a teaspoon of tumeric to my rice as it's cooking for colour).
6. Serve in a bowl with rice, sausages and garnish with fresh parsley.
This dish is comfort food made easy! Enjoy!!
If you like sausages you might also like my Slow Cooker Sausage Stroganoff recipe

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Making Progress .... Turning Our Toilet Into A Powder Room

On Saturday the long awaited day finally arrived .... something that has been on our to do list since the day we moved into the Jarrah Jungle almost 5 years now and it's so exciting to see our plans come to life!

The vanity and sink was installed thus turning
our small toilet into a functional powder room!

Gone are the days of walking through the entire house just to wash your hands ..... from the toilet in the laundry, through the kitchen, up the hallway, into the bathroom. Or trying to wash your hands at the laundry trough and turning the washing machine taps on by mistake which everyone use to do! So annoying!!
Here's a peek at our progress from the weekend ....

We fitted our new vanity, sink and mixer tap and the plumber hooked it all up to the new plumbing he installed a few weekends ago.
We hadn't yet picked out a mixer tap for the vanity but knew that we wanted it to match our laundry trough mixer with the same shape and style. On Saturday morning we ducked into Masters and picked out this Bello brand mixer tap for $109 which was a third of the price of our laundry mixer (which is a Phoenix Taps brand) but looks just as good.
The vanity was fitted over the new plumbing pipes, glass sink attached and the mixer tap installed - now we can finally wash our hands inside the toilet. Woo hoo!

I'm really happy with the small Cibo vanity we got from Bunnings it looks really stylish with the glass sink. It's compact and the perfect size for the powder room, the vanity covers the pipes and there's just enough room to store some toilet paper rolls inside.
Next the plumber installed our shiny new toilet and after 3 weeks of using the outdoor toilet in the Granny Flat I've never been so happy to have an indoor toilet before .... what a treat it is! I can stop dehydrating myself and drink water all day and wine all night without a care in the world!

We dug out all the old earthenware and terracotta pipes and laid all new new plumbing so that our new toilet would actually flush and work properly like it's meant to!

I'm so happy we have an indoor toilet again and I know our friends and family
will love that we have a working toilet that actually flushes!
No more sending them out to the Granny Flat!!

This week we want to finish painting the laundry and powder room, finish installing the flat pack cabinets, install the bench top, fit the laundry trough and mixer tap.
Once that's done we'll get the tiler back to do the splash back around the laundry bench and powder room basin and lay the kick tiles.
Once all the tiling is done we can set up our new front loader washing machine - I've flooded the Granny Flat twice using our current washing machine in there because the small kitchen sink can't take the amount of water that comes out of the machine and it overflowed EVERYWHERE  and to make matters worse because it's been so cold the wet carpets are taking ages to dry so it STINKS!

The joys of renovating!
You can see all my Laundry/Powder Room renovation progress posts here:

Linking up with:
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Home Coming - The DIYers

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[All images my own]

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

If Your Couch Could Talk ..... What Would It Say?

Note: This post is sponsored by Super A-Mart
Today I'm talking couches ..... that one piece of furniture that most of us gravitate towards when we're home to relax, unwind, talk, watch TV, eat, drink, even sleep on!
The couch could tell one heck of a story don't you think!
If Your Couch Could Talk

Just imagine if your couch could talk .... What would it say?

Super A-Mart have come up with this clever infographic which has me thinking back to the couches I've had in my lifetime, surprisingly I have really fond memories of all of them.
My 1st couch went into the first home I rented as an independent 20-something leaving my parents farm behind for a life in the suburbs. I couldn't afford new furniture and gladly accepted hand me downs or second hand items like my first couch which I bought from an ad in the newspaper and I was so naive I didn't even ask the size of it .... turns out it was a huge modular couch that needed 2 vehicles to pick it up!
This couch was an ugly pale salmon colour and every mark and stain stood out and the velvet material attracted every form of hair and fluff. It was so retro it even had a built in coffee table and radio oh yes it was fancy! It wouldn't all fit in the house it was so big so part of it lived under the patio. BUT man was that couch comfortable and large enough to fit many bodies on for movie nights and sleep overs.
My first couch would say to me ....
You made sacrifices and went without and now it's time to move onwards and upwards
and let me go because I'm too big to fit into your next home! 
My 2nd couch went into my very first home I mortgaged, a modern inner city apartment with a small open plan living and dining area. I went for a practical couch/sofa bed thinking a small space would need extra bedding for friends staying over. The first week I moved in I went out and bought a new blue futon couch/bed with a metal frame. As a couch it was the most uncomfortable thing you've ever sat on but as a bed it was firm and did the job. There were many, many, many friends who crashed on that couch over the years!

This couch witnessed my bachelorette days with many parties, new found friendships, years of working, travelling and house sitters, did I say partying?! I had many nights of soul discovering sitting uncomfortably on that couch writing down my hopes, dreams and goals for the future. It was there through the highs and lows of life, when I was finding my way and discovering who I was.

My second couch would say to me .....
You never stopped chasing your dreams and along we way we had some unforgetable fun times!
I guess it's time for us to part ways now as you move into your first home with Mr P 

My 3rd couch is what I have now a beautiful, stylish, comfortable, chocolate leather modular couch and a matching 3 seater. Mr P and I bought these couches together when we moved into our first home Jarrah Jungle almost 5 years ago now. The couch has softened and relaxed over the years, it's still so comfortable, easy to wipe clean and covered in my ever growing collection of cushions and throw rugs.

This couch has been the saviour and place to wind down after long hours working and renovating. Where chats and wine, dinner for two, snuggling, foxtel watching, reading, relaxing, sleeping, all happens here. This couch is my rock, it's the heart of the home, it's where it all happens!

My third couch would say to me .....
You deserve to have beautiful things, so look after me and I'll be here for
many more years to keep you comforted, recharged and relaxed ....
just wipe the renovating dust off me occasionally ok?! 

I had so much fun reminiscing about my old couches and when I stopped and thought about it I was surprised that I remembered them all so clearly!
So now it's your turn to tell me If Your Couch Could Talk .... What Would It Say About You?

Disclosure: I have partnered with Super A-Mart for this sponsored post.

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[Infographic and all images via Super A-Mart]


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