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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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[First 3 images my own - All other images via Pinterest 12, 3, 4, 5]

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Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: Never Never By James Patterson and Candice Fox

This is a book review of Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox that was recently published by Random House Books Australia on 15 August 2016.

New York born James Patterson is one of the biggest selling writers and well known authors of all time. His first book was published in 1976 and since then he has written detective stories, thrillers, science fiction, romance and young adult novels. Sydney born Candice Fox is an up and coming young writer and has co-written three books with James Patterson (this is the first).


This is a fast paced action packed thriller about two police officers Detective Blue and Detective Wittaker from Sydney who are sent to work in an isolated mining town Bandya in the West Australian outback surrounded by desert - also known as the Never Never.

The Detectives stay on the mine site to investigate the disappearance of mine workers and pretty quickly more people go missing right before their eyes. With little help from the mine management and workers the Detectives try to solve the mystery of these missing people and pretty soon become targets themselves.

This is a brilliant, action packed, high energy thriller, which was easy to read and once I started I couldn't put it down. With well defined and entertaining characters and a brazen killer on the loose there was never a dull moment in the story.

The Fly In Fly Out lifestyle is big in Western Australia and whilst some of the mining procedures didn't appear very accurate it didn't detract from the quality of the story at all. I felt it portrayed the honest lifestyle of FIFO workers, the isolation of being away from home, friends and family, and how tough it can be on the body and minds of workers in the Never Never.

I recommend this book to action packed thriller fans and anyone interested in FIFO mining life.

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


Never Never can be purchased from Random House Australia


Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley

Visit the authors - James Patterson's website here and Candice Fox's blog here 


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


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[Image via Random House Australia]

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My Water Wise Plants + Pebbles Courtyard Garden

I have been dreaming about our courtyard garden for many, many years now and it's almost surreal that my gardening dreams are now becoming a reality!

Let's take a trip down memory lane to the front of our house 
BEFORE the courtyard renovation .... 


Now let's look at its progress today!


The Courtyard isn't completely finished yet but we don't have much left to do ..... We need to install our new shade sail to the poles, build a screen to hide the rubbish bins, seal the limestone pavers and then add furniture and pot plants and it will be an outdoor living space that we will want to spend time in all year round!

Over the last few weekends we've been planting a garden straight from my Pinterest inspiration boards with hardy plants that are perfect for the front of the house which gets a lot of sun and will need to survive a hot Aussie summer.

As the Rain Chain feature is part of this garden bed and it's close to the house foundations we also wanted plants that don't need to be watered very often so water wise plants were on the wish list.



The yukkas we grew from cuttings given to us from a friend and when we removed them from their pots we noticed some were growing extra plants and so we split them into more plants.

I'm so amazed that these yukkas cost us nothing as they are such a good looking plant and make a real statement in the garden too!





Next we planted some Cordyline black knight plants which are a red/purple plant and compliment the timber look fence perfectly. 

I love the spiky plants and the way they look architectural and modern. 




We add a few succulent plants to fill the gaps and we're hoping they'll grow and spread a little more to cover the ground.

I love succulents they are my favourite plants and this is a nice sunny spot for them to thrive in.




Instead of mulch we decided to add pebbles as a top layer to create contrast around the plants and in the garden bed. We shopped around for pebbles and found Masters had the best value - 20kg bags for $10 and we used 22 bags in total.

As the Rain Chain feature pot is in this garden bed we also wanted a solid base for any rain that may overflow down the Rain Chain in heavy downpours. Pebbles would keep the area a lot cleaner than mulch or soil would which will wash away and make a mess if it gets too wet.

I love how the black pebbles look against the limestone pavers and it makes the plants really pop as well. We just hope the pebbles won't heat up too much in the sun and that the plants will be tough enough to handle it if they do! 




We had to finish the reticulation in this part of the garden so that it's on its own watering program (we have separate zones for the lawn, the front verge area, the herb/veggie garden and this pebble garden because they all have different watering needs and need to be watered at different times).

Mr P fitted sprinklers around each plant so they will be watered automatically because my black thumb cannot be held accountable for keeping the plants alive!




Around the front of the garden to balance out the Rain Chain feature pot we added a similar feature pot that is slightly smaller with a large yukka planted in it.

Then we planted some yukkas and cordylines in between.




The courtyard garden is really coming along nicely.

I love how this garden design was easy to plant out and with the hardy plants it should be easy to take care of (or better yet it takes care of itself!).





The next gardening project for the courtyard is to plant a vegetable and herb garden and I have already sown some seeds which I've watched sprout and I can't wait to grow my own fresh veggies and herbs!

What are you growing in the garden?


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[All images my own]

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Book Review: Blue Dog By Louis de Bernieres

This is a book review of Blue Dog by Louis de Bernieres that was recently published by Random House Books Australia on 1 August 2016.

Blue Dog is the prequel to Red Dog which became a worldwide best seller, was translated into 30 languages and made into a classic Australian movie in 2001.

Louis de Bernieres is an English writer who lives in Norfolk. Before writing full time he held many varied jobs including landscape gardener, motorcycle messenger and car mechanic. He also taught English in Colombia. He wrote his first novel in 1990 and has won many awards since then for his 30+ books.

This book also forms part of my 2016 Reading Challenge list at 2/12 a book you can finish in a day (it's short and sweet and easy to read although it took me a few days I'm still putting it under this category!)


This is a beautiful story of an 11 year old boy Mick who after a family tragedy moves from his bustling Sydney life to his Grandpa's property in the laidback red dirt outback of the Pilbara in Western Australia.

The story is told from Mike's young mind as he comes to terms with his grief, living on the land with the wildlife, having adventures with his pet blue dog, the remoteness of being in the outback, the Aborigines and farm hands who become Mike's friends and spending time with his Grandpa.

This is a short, easy to read, heart warming story and the Australian slang makes it very amusing and authentic too (don't worry for non-Aussies there's a glossary of Australian language included!).

I love reading stories set in my home country and the Australian bush and outback was so realistic I could imagine the Pilbara setting perfectly and this really added to the charm of the story.

I recommend this book to all ages who want an easy to read story set in the Australian outback.


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


Blue Dog can be purchased from Random House 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 Random House Books Australia to review. As always, all opinions are my own.


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[Image via Random House Australia]

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline

This is a book review of The Girls by Emma Cline that was published by Random House on 2 June 2016.

Emma Cline is 27 year old writer from California and this is her debut novel.


This is a story set in California in the summer of 1969 and told by Evie who is now in her mid thirties as she looks back on her then 14 years old self.

Evie is lonely and bored and meets a group of girls who take her to a cult with sex, drugs and rock n roll and she spends most of her summer there until a violent event changes everything.

The story line is intense and engaging and the writing is thought provoking, raw and even cruel at times as Evie takes you on a journey of her innermost thoughts about herself, friends, parents and the cult.

Whilst the two stories flick between Evie now and then, it is very easy to follow, all the characters are so well described that I could easily visualize who they are - I can definitely see this being turned into a movie!

I had high expectations of this book due to the praise it has received in such a short time and I was not disappointed, it really is one of those books that makes you stop and think long after you've read the last page.


I recommend this book to anyone interested in women's historical fiction with a cult twist.

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


The Girls can be purchased from the author here or 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 Random House to review. As always, all opinions are my own.


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[Image via Random House and Emma Cline]

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Getting Organised: How I'm Using My Happy Planner

I shared with you recently how inspired I was about getting organised with a life planner and I've been using my Happy Planner for over a month now so thought I'd do a blog post on how I'm finding it as a first time planner.

I have to admit I have fallen in love with my Happy Planner! 

Planning is creative and fun and feeds my crafty side and I just love it. It's like a whole new world of planning has opened to me - I've joined planner Facebook groups with like-minded creatives also obsessed with their planners, I started a planning Pinterest board and I've watched countless YouTube videos on how others plan all of which has been great inspiration. I'm also regularly stalking shops and Etsy stores for planner supplies! 


Where to buy the Happy Planner

There are many types of planners available and after a lot of research I picked the Create 365 Classic Happy Planner 18 months (July 2016 - December 2017) in Botanical Garden design which is made by Me + My Big Ideas. The design and layout for each planner is different and the Botanical Garden design has a flower and garden design which is stunning.

Compared to other planners on the market the Happy Planner was very reasonably priced and delivery was pretty quick too (as it comes from America to Australia delivery and price were big factors I had to consider).

The Happy Planner costs $29.99 USD and I purchased it from Blitsy a discounted online craft store for $20.99 USD. Blitsy also has a very reasonable delivery fee of $9.95 USD to Australia and shipping took 3 weeks. Blitsy always have great sales and accept competitor coupons too - Please use my referral link when you sign up for some great discounts!


Happy Planner Extras + Add-ons

After I'd used the Happy Planner for a while I went back to Blitsy and ordered some add-ons made especially for the Happy Planner that I thought would be useful.

I got the Home Planner which is a household extension pack with sections for: To do lists for the home, meal planners, household cleaning schedules and budgets. I absolutely love this add on especially the meal planner section and keep it at the back of my planner.

I got a pack of Snap-in Tabs so I can add my own pages to the planner (I would buy The Happy Planner Punch but sadly they don't ship to Australia so this is a great option for adding my own pages using the stick on tabs). I also got a pack of Dividers which I'll use to separate any extra pages I add in. I used the dividers and tabs to insert this Christmas Gift List into my planner to track  my Xmas present shopping - you can find this printable and other freebies here.



Decorating + Stickers

The pages of the Happy Planner look beautiful with quotes and patterns on each page so you don't need to decorate at all if you don't want to but that's half the fun for me - getting creative and crafty and turning my pages into a scrapbook journal using stickers, washi tape and free printables.

It is really easy to get carried away with all the pretties you can buy for planners and there are a zillion stickers for everything and anything it's a little overwhelming to start with and it would be easy to spend a fortune. So I have set myself a modest budget of $10 a fortnight for planner goodies - this is the cost of a coffee each week I am happy to give up!


I got some cheap stickers from The Reject Shop and Red Dot and then I got the rest from Luscious LabelsLily Pink Prints and Lime and Mortar all Australian based Etsy stores who make stickers especially for planners which means they are made to fit perfectly.

After I used my planner for a while I worked out the functional stickers I would find useful and got those from Etsy ie: bills due, date night, Birthdays, laundry, hair appointment, meal planning, pets etc ..... honestly there are stickers for things you never knew you needed until you see them!

The other planner supplies I use are coloured pens, scissors, glue and washi tape for decorating pages (so cheap on Ebay I got 10 rolls for $2.50). 



Free Printables For Pages

I soon discovered there are a heap of free printables for the Happy Planner online which is awesome. What is great about these is they fit perfectly into the planner squares and create a beautiful theme for the weekly spread.

I print out my favourites on my colour printer, cut them out with scissors and glue them into my planner - this has saved me a fortune! Some people print onto sticker paper or have them printed professionally but the do it yourself works just fine for me!

These pretty freebies are from Va-Voom Vintage and Victoria Thatcher.



Free Printables For Book Lovers

I read and review books a lot on my blog and I'm also a book reviewer for Netgalley so this is an area I wanted to track in my planner so I know when to publish book reviews for new release books, what I'm reading for my Book Club, when to return library books, etc.

A perfect solution is these adorable Book Log and Book Club free printables I found on Monica's Marvels blog that I printed out on my coloured printer, cut out and stick into my planner as I start a new book which is a brilliant way to track my book reviews and the Book Club is stuck in for our monthly meet ups so I know when I need to finish the book by.



Storing My Planner Supplies

It soon became necessary to work out how to store all my planner stickers and free printables which I'd cut up ready to use. The box I kept them in to start with was a mess and I couldn't find anything!

I bought this plastic storage container on Ebay for about $8 and it has adjustable sections which is perfect for my stickers and printables once I cut the sheets to fit the sections. 

I also have a drawer full of the larger sticker sheets and pretty papers in my craft room that I have re-organised so they are easy to see what I have so I can use these too.



I am really enjoying using my Happy Planner as a way to be creative and crafty while getting the Jarrah Jungle household and myself organised.

I'm sure my planning will evolve over time so I'll write another update down the track on how it's going and also share some of my layouts and pages.

How do you stay organised? Do you have a planner? 


If you are looking for your own Happy Planner check out Blitsy a one stop shop for discounted craft supplies who currently have the Happy Planner at 40% off! When you make your first purchase it would be awesome if you use my referral code when you sign up - you will get great discounts and I get a $10 reward to spend on my creative obsession so I can share more posts like this with you guys!

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[All images my own]


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