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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooked Artichokes Stuffed With Garlic Anchovy Crumbs

I've always been a bit intimidated by whole artichokes and have only ever eaten the jar variety on pizzas and antipasto platters. So when I saw them in season at the veggie store for only 50 cents and people were walking away with an arm full of them I figured I better see what the fuss is about and try them for myself.
 
 
Turning to my trusty Australian Women's Weekly Slow Cooking Recipe Book I slow cooked the artichokes and then stuffed them and put them in the oven until golden. I changed the recipe by adding more flavour to the stock they cooked in and stuffing them rather than serving the crumb on the side.

This is my altered version of the recipe .... the artichokes were delicately flavoured and the crumb added a delicious flavour and texture.

 
Slow Cooked Artichokes Stuffed With Garlic Anchovy Crumbs
Serves 6
 
Slow cooker
6 artichokes
8 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs lemon juice
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, bruised
 
Stuffing
Olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
1 tbs lemon rind, finely grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, finely grated
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
Cracked Pepper
 
Method
 
1. Remove and discard tough outer leaves from artichokes. Trim stem so the bases sit flat. Remove and discard hairy choke from centre. Rinse under cold water.
 
2. Place artichokes upside down and tightly pack into a slow cooker (I used ramekins to hold in place). Pour in the water, chicken stock and lemon juice and add garlic and bay leaf. Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours.
 
3. Remove artichokes with a slotted spoon and allow to drain. Leave to cool so you can stuff them.
 
4. Make stuffing by heating olive oil in a frying pan and add garlic and anchovies stirring until anchovy softens. Add breadcrumbs and lemon rind and cook until crumbs are browned lightly and crisp. Remove from heat and add Romano cheese, parsley and season to taste with cracked pepper (I didn't add salt as the anchovies were salty enough!).
 
5. Using a teaspoon carefully stuff the artichokes between each layer of leaves and finish by piling stuffing on top. Grate some extra cheese on top.
 
6. Place the artichokes in the oven for about 10 minutes at 170 degrees until golden.
 
7. Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.
  

These artichokes will make an impressive entree at our next dinner party and have set the theme for an Italian inspired menu!

Linking up with:
Wow us Wednesdays - Savvy Southern Style
Fluster's Creative Muster - Fuster Buster and Curly Crafty Mum


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review And Preview: Seven Letters From Paris: A Memoir By Samantha Verant

This is a book review and preview of Seven Letters From Paris: A Memoir by Samantha Verant that is due to hit book stores on 3 November 2014.

Samantha Verant was born in Los Angeles, USA and now lives in France with her sexy French rock scientist and two step kids. Samantha has written a children's book and this memoir.


This is a memoir written by 40 year old Samantha as she finds herself in a loveless marriage, with no job or money and a pile of debts. Samantha finds seven love letters from a holiday romance in France some 20 years earlier and decides to track down her Frenchman Jean-Luc.

Just like a fairytale Samantha the American Princess and Jean-Luc the French frog find each other again and fall in love and with each page turned you are taken on their whirlwind romance together. Of course this is a real life memoir so there are bumps in the road, it's realistic and relateable and that's what made this such a great read.

This was such a beautiful story full of hope and promise. I really liked their travels through France and back to America, so much history, culture, food and wine, I felt like I was on the adventure them them, albeit a third wheel at times!

I recommend this book to romantics and anyone who is not happy in their relationships, I hope it shows you the light to see that life is too short to be unhappy when you could be living a happy and fulfilling life if only you take a chance.
 
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


Seven Letters From Paris 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 their book and I was given this eBook published by Random House Australia, Bantum Australia to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

 
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Signing Off + Heading To Sydney

I'm signing off the blog for a few days because I'm flying out to Sydney for a work conference today.
 
I feel really invigorated doing personal development and the plan is to fill my brain with lots of juicy information and suck up all the knowledge I can - I don't think you should ever stop learning!
 
View from Quay Restaurant where we dined earlier this year
 
I always look forward to an interstate getaway to escape from Perth for a few days. After the 4-5 hour flight  it's so  nice to have a hotel room all to myself, 24 hour room service, a hot bubble bath, and no house work to do!

I'm staying in Darling Harbour which is the perfect place to walk around and check out the cafes along the water. I'm hoping for some sunny warm weather ..... c'mon Spring do your thing!
 

I will see you back here on the blog Friday, I hope you have a wonderful week!

You can keep up with my Sydney adventures on the Jarrah Jungle Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

What are your plans for this week?
 

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Club Book Review: Divergent By Veronica Roth

The book club read for the month of September was Divergent by Veronica Roth
 
I nearly didn't get to read this book because it's so popular (probably because it's been made into a movie which was in cinemas when we were reading the book) and a month on and I'm still waiting for the book which I reserved from the library! Luckily my Book Club buddie lent me her copy so I could read it before the book club meet up - you don't want to go to book club without reading the book you feel like the naughty kid in class who didn't finish your homework!
 
 
Divergent is a story about an American community which is formed and separated into 5 factions. The factions are determined by your characteristics in an attempt to create a perfect society. When you turn 16 years old you get to choose the faction you want to belong in, but this also means leaving your family and friends behind.
 
The main character Beattrice (Tris) makes the decision to leave her family's faction and join another. Tris is inducted into her new faction, she makes friends and enemies, there's fights and dares to build up her strength and courage, and her journey of self discovery as she works out who she is and where she belongs.
 
I liked all the characters, even the bullies, I thought they were portrayed brilliantly. The romance between Tris and Four was pretty saucy and added a lot of interest too.
 
I really enjoyed this book, ok I kind of loved it and finished it in just 4 days! The story line was so interesting I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen - whether Tris would make it into her faction and more importantly whether Tris and Four would end up together!
 
This book is the first of three in the series and so the story ends in a way that leaves you hanging to find out what will happen next. That's the downside of a trilogy, you need to keep on reading all the books to get closure.
 
I recommend this book to sci-fi and fantasy readers and to young adults. It's a trilogy so be warned you may be drawn in to read the rest of them!
 
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars
 
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
 
 
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Friday, October 10, 2014

Kitchen Renovation - Budget Vs What It Actually Cost

I've realised in all the excitement of finishing the kitchen and dining room renovation last year that I didn't end up doing a final cost breakdown of this room and thought you guys might be interested to know what a kitchen renovation costs.
 
 
We installed a custom made quality kitchen with all cabinetry having soft closing doors and drawers and granite bench tops.

We also choose top brand appliances, although our only regret is we didn't pay the extra for the pyrolytic oven if we did it again we would so that the oven cleans itself!
 

My favourite feature in the kitchen is the bin drawer which is a huge double bin in a drawer that pulls out in one movement and then you close it and it's hidden away so nobody knows it's there - it cost $500 extra but it is worth every cent.
 
My other favourite thing is the pull out caddy under the sink for bottles and sprays etc, we liked it so much we installed one in our laundry renovation as well.
 
 
The reason we are renovating our home is to make it more livable and comfortable for us and also to increase the value of the property for when it comes time to sell it. We have not renovated this home just to sell it, if we did our budget would be a lot less so our profits would be higher.
 
Where we saved money was to do as much of the labour and DIY as we can ourselves and this enabled us to afford all the bells and whistles.
 
 
We stuck to the rule that you should not spend more than 5% of the purchase price on a kitchen renovation - our budget was $25,000 and we spent $22,526.25.
 
Kitchen cost breakdown:
Quote 1 Pro Form - Design fee $100
Quote 2 QN Designs - kitchen cabinets, granite benchtop, handles, installed  $14,000
QN Designs - Extras after quote double bin drawer  $500
QN Designs - Extras after quote bench top modification  $200
New ceiling installed, materials and labour  $1,000
Electrician, Nextec Electrical  $1011.45
Pendant light, Beacon Lighting  $129
LED spotlights (4), Beacon Lighting $219.80
Clark Sink single bowl, Bunnings $169
Oliver Kitchen tap mixer, Tradelink  $140
Splash back in frosted ice installed, WA Glasskote  $1500
Electrolux 4 gas burner cook top EHGC64AS, Kambos  $1049
Electrolux 12 function oven EOEE63CS, Kambos  $1,527
Euromaid glass canopy rangehood CG9BL, Harvey Norman  $350
LG 14 place dishwasher LD1452WFEN2, The Good Guys  $631
Total: $22,526.25
 
What isn't included in this budget because I keep it as a separate budget item is the cost of paint, new doors and handles, plumber and furniture.

I have a spreadsheet with a budget for all our renovations and projects - It's essential for keeping track of our expenses so we can rein them in when we need to, spend more on some rooms and make savings in others.

 
You can see our bathroom renovation budget break down here - we set ourselves a budget of $10,000 and it came in at $8,865.60.

The laundry renovation budget was $5,000 and so far we have spent just over $3,000 so there's a bit of a saving there as well which is great.

How do you manage the cost of renovating or projects around the home ...... Spreadsheets, lists, or something else?
 
 
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Laundry Renovation - Making Progress With Dulux Paint

I'm just dying to share with you how the Laundry/Toilet Renovation is coming along and have been posting snippets on my Facebook and Instagram but don't want my blog readers to miss out so here is a progress post now that we are up to the painting stage - this is the exciting part where we transform our boring beige laundry into something modern and inviting.

There's still a lot of work to do - we need to finish painting the toilet/powder room, hang 5 new doors and new handles and paint the doors, wallpaper a wall, find and install new lights and power, install shelving in the large built in cupboard, find art and accessories and then we'll be done and you'll get a big juice before and after post!

But for now here is our progress since the tiles and splash back were laid and then we got busy prepping the room ready for painting.

I've been impatiently waiting for us to paint for months!
 
Let's talk paint colours - For the laundry room I wanted a modern grey that was light and bright but has some depth. Now for the tricky part finding the perfect shade of grey .... I went back to the Dulux colour booklets I used as inspiration for the exterior paint project last time and turned to the interior colours with a grey colour scheme.
 
I also grabbed a bunch of colour chips from my local Bunnings and stuck them on the wall so I could work out what shade of grey would look good in the room at different times of the day and night.

Trying to choose from 50 shades of grey
 
Dulux, Grey Pail was the winner for me - It's one of the lighter greys and has a clear bright finish without a blue/green/purple base that you get with a lot of greys.
 
Now thanks to Dulux for supplying the paint for this project, all I had to do was collect the supplies and we could get stuck into some painting! 

That's what I call a trolley full of fun :)

Of course before we could get slap happy on the walls we had to make sure that everything was properly prepped and all the walls and ceiling were plastered, sanded and washed.

It is so important to prepare your walls first or you'll be wasting all your time and effort because the paint won't look as good, it won't last and will most likely peel off.

Every Roller Queen needs a bit of decoration!
 
For the walls we used an undercoat paint first Dulux Prepcoat - Primer, Sealer and Undercoat because we had plastered the walls they were powdery and porous and this sealer binder helps the top coat of paint bond to the walls.

This paint is oil based and a bit smelly so we had to wear masks while using it, the smell lasted for about 48 hours which wasn't too bad. Dulux make both oil and water based paints but for an undercoat we find the oil based paint is better. For all top coats we use water based for easier clean up and the smell isn't as strong.

Dulux Prepcoat

For the wall colour we used Dulux Wash and Wear Kitchen and Bathroom (Low Sheen) in Grey Pail which is a special paint for wet areas like the laundry which can get damp and gives 7 years mould protection.

As mentioned, we picked water based paint because it has a low odour and is so much easier to clean up the brushes and yourself when paint drips and flicks everywhere!

This is how Grey Pail looks during the day with lots of natural sunlight
 
Grey Pail at night time under the lights
 
For the ceiling we used the Dulux Wash and Wear Kitchen and Bathroom Ceiling in Flat White which again is a special paint for wet areas with mould protection and comes in a flat white so it hides imperfections and gives good coverage.

We picked this in water base as well so it was easy to clean up. It's always a good idea to wear safety glasses when painting the ceiling so the paint doesn't flick in your eyes.

Dulux ceiling paint with mould protection
 
Once our newly tiled floor was protected and the flat pack cabinets covered, we were ready to paint everything. This is my favourite part of the project because it means it's almost done and a new paint colour makes all the difference.  
 
We started with the undercoat paint and applied it to any areas that we had plastered and sanded so that the top coat of paint would stick to it - this was pretty much all the walls so big areas we used a roller and smaller areas we used a paint brush. 

Excuse the wine but it was a Friday night !
Mr P painting on the undercoat .... wearing a mask because it's a bit smelly!

Using an angled brush makes going around the edges so much easier

 
Meanwhile I followed close behind with my roller

It was a few weeks until we were ready to paint again as we decided to do a DIY ceiling lift on our sagging ceiling using some metal plaster washers. We then had to plaster, sand, wash the ceiling and walls AGAIN and then we were ready to paint over the old yellowing ceiling and give it a new lease of life.

Usually 2 coats of paint would be enough but we ended up doing 3 coats for the ceiling paint because you could still see the plaster where we had put in the ceiling washers.

Using a brush to go around the edges
 
Then a roller made light work of the rest of the ceiling

Happy to put the 3rd and final coat on
 
We waited for the tiler to come and finish off the splash back tile and kick tile as we didn't want him to make a mess of our lovely freshly painted walls with the grout and everything.

Once the tiling was completed we were ready to put some paint on the walls and let me tell you I was absolutely jumping around with anticipation to see how the new paint colour would look.

Mr P is the cutting in King while I'm the roller Queen

Apart from the high parts that I can't reach!
 
Laundry cupboard done
 
Admiring our work and loving the new colour!
  
I'm truly in love this shade of grey!

So that's our painting progress to date - we still have more painting to do in here the toilet ceiling and walls (as we decided to do a ceiling lift in this room as well just last weekend) and then we have all the door frames and new doors and window frames to paint.

I'll share the progress of the rest of the painting in another blog post once we've finished.

What do you think of the wall colour Grey Pail?
 
 
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Disclosure: Thanks to Dulux for providing me with this paint for review. I have not received any payment or compensation. As always, all opinions are my own.
 

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Review and Preview: Make And Give By Steph Hung and Erin Jang

This is a book review and preview of Make And Give: Simple And Modern Crafts To Brighten Every Day By Steph Hung and Erin Jang that is due to hit book stores on 14 October 2014.
 
The two authors behind this book are Steph Hung who is a craft stylist and former editor at Martha Stewart Living and lives in Toronto, Ontario and Erin Jang who is a graphic designer, illustrator and former art director at Martha Stewart Living and lives in New York City.
 
 
As the name suggests, this is a modern craft book with 35 projects to make and give to friends and family as gifts.
 
This is not an old fashioned craft book - it's stylish and fun with unique and affordable projects to make. The pages are full of bright pictures and pretty styling for each project so you know what the craft is meant to look like - which is a necessity!
 
As with any craft you will need to buy certain materials and use templates to do the projects. It has step by step instructions on how to do each project and suits crafters on all levels - from those that only know how to use a pair of scissors to professionals with a hot glue gun!
 
Written by two creatives - the former editor and art director of Martha Stewart Living you can imagine how good the images and ideas are in this book - it's definitely one that Martha Stewart fans will love.
 
My only vice is that I didn't receive a hard copy of this book and because of the images I couldn't download it to my Kindle eReader either and I had to download it to my computer to read from which I found difficult. I would get much more use out of this book in hard copy.
 
I recommend this book to readers who want to make modern home made gifts - it would also make a great gift for a fellow crafter.
 
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

Make And Give can be purchased from Amazon

Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley

Disclosure: Thanks to NetGalley and Roost Books for providing me with a digital version of this book to review. As always, all opinions are my own.


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