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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cherie Barber Renovating For Profit - Seminar Review

A few Saturdays ago a lovely friend who shares in my passion for property invited me to a free seminar on renovating.

Needless to say I jumped at the chance and we signed up for Renovating Run Down Real Estate For Profit which is held in every State of Australia every few months and is presented by Australia's renovating queen Cherie Barber and hosted by Stuart Zadel.

Cherie Barber known as Australia's renovating queen

You know with these "free" seminars they're going to try to sell you something - at this one they're selling a $6000 package which includes a 3 day workshop in Sydney, all the paperwork, templates, contracts, etc you will need to start your own renovating for profit venture. Personally, I thought it was too expensive but if you are serious about renovating for profit and unsure where to start, then this will help you in the process.

Project managing my own home renovation over the last few years has given me a lot of insight into how the process of renovating works, organising trades, what order to do the jobs in, and I have created my own documents along the way to help. Although some of the templates and contracts in the package would be useful, I know that I can do my own research and find most of the information I need online ... for free!

Regardless of the package that they were selling - all the information shared on the day was brilliant.

Cherie is smart, approachable and open with her knowledge and understanding of the property market. She shared lots of examples of her before and after renovations, how to keep the budget down, cosmetic updates Vs structural changes, and looking after your tradies to build up a team to help you do the work.

Let's face it, the Australian property market has already boomed and now it's a lot harder to find a do-er-upper home, in the perfect location, for the right price. But there is still money to be made in real estate and this seminar gives you lots of hints and tips in getting your foot in the door to give it a go.

I was really impressed and inspired by the seminar and it's driven me to consider the idea of renovating for profit as a serious business venture. Since doing my own home renovations and the passion and interest I have in the process (as you know I started this blog to document my own home renovations!) I'm contemplating having a go at project managing another renovation .... who knows I could be doing it for a career in years to come just like Cherie!

We were given a book The New Way To Make Money In Property Fast by Stuart Zadel who hosted the event - you can get a free copy here. I've read the book cover to cover and while my eyes glazed over in some parts about taxes and things I didn't understand, it has some really good chapters by property experts about the different ways you can make money from property - everything from the stock market to property development which I found really useful.

The Renovating Run Down Real Estate For Profit seminar was really inspiring and motivating and if you're interested in renovating homes not to live in yourself styled perfectly to your tastes, but to renovate for a profit to rent out or sell and step into the property market then I really recommend you sign up for this seminar.

Hey it's free, you've got nothing to lose except for a few hours of your time!

The next Renovating For Profit seminars are in October 2014 - you can check out the dates here

Stuart Zadel also hosts other property and investment events which you can find here

Have you been to one of Cherie Barber's seminars before? What did you think?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Home Smoker + Indian Inspired Dinner Party Menu

I had some friends and family over for a last minute dinner party over the weekend which had me running around like a crazy woman Saturday morning shopping for food and then coming home to clean the house and cook while Mr P tidied up the patio and backyard which had become overgrown and unloved over these winter months.

Not having a lot of time to plan the menu, we decided to try out our new Bradley Smoker Oven and whip up some tasty smoked dishes - we cold smoked some cheese and hot smoked sausage and tandoori chicken - Mr P is officially the Smoking King - the smoked food was amazing.

I made the remaining dishes which had an Indian theme, prepped and cooked everything ready so it just needed to be reheated or taken from the fridge before serving. That's my kind of dinner party, less time in the kitchen and more time having fun with friends!

Here is our Indian inspired dinner menu ....

Welcome drink:

Limoncello and Prosecco cocktails
Pour into a champagne glass a nip of limoncello and top with prosecco
An easy and refreshing drink to get the party started!


Cold smoked cheddar cheese and smoked baked brie stuffed with garlic and lemon thyme,
smoked and sliced South African sausage boerewors, seedless grapes, red apple slices and
bread croutons drizzled in oil and baked in the oven until crunchy
I've always wanted to make a warm baked cheese and now that I have there's not going back it was absolutely delicious and the pre-smoke helped to enhance the flavours too


5 hour smoked and BBQ whole split chickens in a tandoori marinade
the smokey flavour was amazing this was definitely the hero dish on the table


Garlic and Chilli Potatoes and 
Cauliflower with turmeric, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fresh coriander
Corn on the cob with butter, garlic and fresh herbs, cooked in an oven bag for 30 minutes
The vegetables were easy to make beforehand and then heat up before serving


Cucumber Raita, Banana and Coconut Sambal, Mango Chutney,
Rice, Pappadums and Flat Bread
I made the side dishes ahead of time and put them in the fridge (except for the mango chutney which came from a jar!)

The rice was ready in the rice cooker keeping warm and
the flat bread was slathered in garlic butter and warmed in the oven before serving

We carved up the chicken, put all the vegetable and side dishes in the middle of the table
and everyone helped themselves .... it was quite a feast with enough for 2nd and 3rd helpings!


Fresh strawberries marinated in limoncello, orange juice and freshly ground pepper - recipe here
(I upped the ante and used tablespoons not teaspoons!)
Served over vanilla ice cream and topped with crunchy biscuits
With a shot of chilled limoncello to wash it down
We are still learning how to use our Bradley Smoker Oven - how long to smoke for and what flavoured briquettes to use for different types of food.

We still want to try smoking some fish and I want to have another go at pulled pork after our last effort didn't turn out so well!

What's your favourite smoked food?

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review and Preview: Can You Keep A Secret By Caroline Overington

This is a book review and preview of Can You Keep A Secret by Caroline Overington that is due to hit book stores on 1 September 2014.

Caroline is a well known Australian author and journalist and her previous books have been proudly published by Random House Australia. Caroline lives in Bondi with her hubby, twin girls, blue dog and a lizard.

This book starts out as the story of a young Australian girl Caitlin and an American stock broker Colby who meet while Colby is on holiday in Queensland and after a not so serious romance, Caitlin decides to head to New York for a holiday.

Soon after Caitlin lands in New York, 9/11 happens with the attacks on the World Trade Centre and this affects Colby's stock broking work and life in New York. Caitlin and Colby decide to take their relationship further and try to start a family. This then evolves to a decision to adopt a child.

The second half of the book about the adoption is a completely different layout and is mostly blog posts by Caitlin about her story to adopt a child. This is where the suspense and thrill of the read takes off and I was turning the pages and hanging onto every last word to find out how it was going to end.

I have to say this was like reading 2 completely different books, but I did like the writing style throughout. I had a love/hate relationship with pretty much all of the characters in the book - I didn't really like any of them!

I recommend this book to fans of light suspense and who have an interest in travelling to Australia or the USA.
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 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

Can You Keep A Secret can be purchased from Random House here

Sharing my book review on Good Reads here

Disclosure: 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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Friday, August 22, 2014

Laundry and Powder Room Reno - Tiling Is Complete

There's been huge progress this week in the laundry renovation with the last of the tiling being done - the gorgeous 15x60 white gloss kick tile that we got in the same length as the 30x60 grey floor tiles have been laid.
The tilers matched up all the grout lines of the kick tile with the floor tile and laid them around the toilet to seal it in, and all the spaces within the laundry and powder room. It's really finished it off and looks great.
As for the splash back tile, I have to say it looks even better than I expected! For the laundry splash back we used 30x60 white gloss tiles that were leftover from the walls in the bathroom renovation and did a stripe of those top and bottom and then a feature mosaic in the centre.
I didn't want just a small stripe of mosaic, I like my stripes to be wide and noticeable and just love how the tiles contrast against the wood bench top too. We used white grout on this side so that the white tiles and mosaics blended together. In our bathroom we did a similar feature and used a mixture of white and grey grout.
Now for the toilet which we converted into a powder room with a vanity and basin, we decided to be brave in here and make a feature of the fact that we converted this into a powder room by highlighting the vanity. We have run the mosaics from the vanity all the way to the ceiling on both sides of the wall - they make a real statement too!
We used grey grout for here for a point of difference and also because we didn't have enough white grout! We were worried that the mosaic would look too dark with a grey grout but it has lightened as it's dried and I think it makes both of the mosaic designs a bit different to each other so they're not so matchy matchy!
I'm really impressed with the mosaics at $16.50 a sheet, so the splash back tiles cost $280.50 all up for both the laundry and powder room splash back. Of course labour is on top of that, I'll do a proper cost rundown on the laundry renovation once it's all finished. For the impact the splash back makes in the room, it was well worth the price.
This weekend we can put the finishing touches on the room and PAINT! I can't wait to crack open the new paint colour from Dulux who have kindly provided the paint for this project.
Next weekend the plumber is coming to finish and hook up the laundry sink, tap and shiny new front loader washing machine.
We are on the home stretch now!
What do you think of the splash back tiles?
To see our laundry renovation progress to date check out these posts:

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Being A Book Reviewer

I have been writing book reviews here on the blog for about 3 years now for my monthly book club reviews and any other books I manage to read in between renovating!

This has evolved in the last year with me reading and reviewing books from publishers - both Random House Australia and NetGalley. I also share my reviews on Good Reads which is a fantastic website for keeping track of books I'm reading or want to read!

If you have a blog and love to read I really recommend you sign up with NetGalley - It's free to join and you just go through their list of books and request the ones you want to read. They'll then let you know the books they approve and you can download the eBook to your tablet or reader there and then.

You then need to write a review as close to the publish date as possible so reviews are available when the book is first released. You need to give feedback on the NetGalley website for the books you request so they continue to approve new books to read.

I've also learnt not to have too many in my reading list otherwise your feedback score will be low which means you may not get approvals.

Some books which have pictures, such as cook books or gardening and design books, you need to download to your computer because of the formatting. But you can contact the publishers direct and ask for a hard copy of the book, I have done this a few times and sometimes it's a yes and sometimes a no but there's no harm in asking!

The exciting thing about most of these books is that they are proofs that aren't even published yet. I feel like a secret agent reading books that aren't yet in bookstores or available to the public and love that I'm helping the authors by showing support and reviewing their books as they hit the bookshelves.

One big decision I had to make with being a book reviewer was to make the transition from paper books to eBooks.

I was one of those people who said I'd never give up my hard copy books - I would carry around heavy books, sometimes too big to fit in my handbag, but I didn't care because I love the feel of a book in my hands, turning the pages, the marks and smells of the book. I loved it all!

But I found nearly all the books for review are eBooks - they can approve an eBook instantly and I can have it downloaded and be reading it within minutes without even leaving the couch!

Whereas when I requested a hard copy book there were only limited stock and sometimes there weren't any available. Other times, I'd wait weeks for the book to arrive in the post and by then I'd lost precious reading time.

So for convenience, I decided to succumb to technology and look into an eReader so I could read eBooks. In the end I got myself a tablet and downloaded the Kindle app for reading. I figured I could use the tablet for more than just reading and I am so happy with it, it's pretty much replaced my laptop at home - I can blog and read books - what more can a girl need?!

So if you read books and have a blog that you can publish your book reviews too, check out NetGalley you'll love it.

What are your favourite book review websites?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Laundry Renovation - Turning A Wood Panel Into A Bench Top

Today I'm sharing a laundry renovation update on how we turned a wood panel into a bench top.

After shopping around for a timber bench top for the laundry room we settled on this large wooden panel in Karri wood that we found in Bunnings for $99.

We cut the panel to size to fit on top of our laundry flat pack cabinets and have quite a big piece left  over to make a chopping board or something out of.

We cut the panel with an electric saw and kept the plastic packaging on the panel to protect it so it didn't get scratched. 
We then used a planer to make some final adjustments and plane the edge - this planed edge is going against the wall and the factory edge will be the edge of the bench that you'll see.

We also cut the hole out for the laundry sink using a jigsaw .... I accidentally threw the sink template out and had to go scrounging around in the rubbish bin to find it - the template for the sink is the cardboard packaging it comes in so don't throw it out like I did!
Another fingers crossed it fits test to make sure the sink hole was cut properly and all the plumbing is going to line up and fit nicely.

Now to sand out any scratches or imperfections - for the deeper scratches we used our floorboard filler which worked perfectly and the colour match was spot on. Once it was as smooth as a baby's bum it was ready for a wipe clean with a clean dry cloth and a coat of varnish to protect it.

The wood had already been finished with a HardWax oil to give it a natural surface treatment for wet environments. We wanted to keep it natural but add another layer of protection from water damage being that it's going in the laundry with water splashing from the sink and humidity from the washing machine.

So we picked out this Minwax Helmsman Clear Satin varnish - being clear it will allow the wood tones to shine through and it was low odour and easy clean up as its water based.

In the end we painted on 5 coats of the varnish on both sides of the panel with a light sand in between each coat and allowing it to dry overnight between coats.

When we were happy with how it felt nice and smooth and knowing it's going to be water proofed with that many layers of varnish, we were done and this baby was ready to be installed. 

We used the level and measured a zillion times to make sure the bench top was straight and then fixed it into place using metal brackets screwed into the wall and the bench underneath.

Once the bench top was in, we glued the laundry sink in using a SMX polymer that pretty much bonds anything to everything!

We weighed the sink down with some bricks to make sure it stuck good and water tight and left them there for a couple of hours.

It was a labour of love turning this wood panel into a bench top but just look at it now .... the Karri wood colour shows through beautifully and the grains and knots in the wood add a heap of character too.

We are now ready for the trades to come back - the plumber to hook up the plumbing to the sink, taps and our new front loader washing machine and the tiler to finish the splash back behind the bench and vanity in the powder room and complete the kick tile all around the room.

Then we can finish painting and decorating and we are well and truly on the home stretch!

What do you think of our wood panel turned bench top?

To see our laundry renovation progress to date check out these posts:
Laundry/Powder Room Renovation - Demolition Success
Laundry/Powder Room Renovation - Demolition Weekend Plans
Laundry Renovation - The Final Design
Laundry Renovation - Wood Look Bench Top
Laundry Renovation - Flat Packs Vs Cabinet Maker
Laundry Renovation - Flat Pack Assembly and Install
Tips for picking out laundry flat pack cabinets
Powder Room Renovation - It's All In The Flush
Powder Room Renovation - Basin and Vanity: Take Two
Powder Room Renovation - Basin and Vanity
Splash Back Choices - Be Brave Or Play It Safe
Laundry Renovation - Let's Go Mosaic Tile Shopping
Laundry Renovation - Picking The Tiles
Laundry/Powder Room - Floor Tiles Laid
Laundry Before - Our 1960s Laundry/Toilet
edesign Mood Board for the Laundry
Renovating - 5 tips for planning and designing

Sharing with link parties:
Home Coming - The DIYers
The Dedicated House - Before and After Wednesday

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Home Smoking Basics: For Meat, Fish and Poultry By Maria Sartor

This is a book review of Home Smoking Basics: For Meat, Fish and Poultry by Maria Sartor recently published on 28 June 2014.

We have just purchased a Bradley Smoker Digital 6 Rack Smoker Oven from a Perth local supplier The Smoke Shack. What we desperately needed was a cook book and guide to help us get the most out of our smoker.
The Home Smoking Basics has become my smoking bible over the last few weeks, it has step by step instructions on how to use different types of smokers - everything from an open fire to an electric smoker like mine. The different types of wood (flavour), basic tips and tricks, and is an all round great book for beginner smokers because it explains how the process works from beginning to end.
The book is split into chapters for each type of food - meat, fish and poultry. With a heap of different cooking techniques for each, everything from a cold or hot smoke, marinade, brines and rubs. There are basic recipes for cold and hot smoking and then there's more recipes at the back of the book using the food you've smoked.
I have been working my way through the recipes and will share these in a follow up blog post soon.
I recommend this book to the beginner smoker to use to get you started on your home smoking journey.

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

Home Smoking Basics can be purchased from Schiffer Publishing

Sharing my book review on Good Reads here

Disclosure: Schiffer Publishing and NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote their books. Thanks to Schiffer Publishing for sending me a hardcopy of this book to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Girls Weekend Away .... Kalgoorlie Bound

Since my recent holiday at home post I've been thinking about my girls weekend away to Kalgoorlie for the Kalgoorlie Cup next month.

Now I know some of you may find this amusing .... although I'm a city girl now I really am a country girl at heart. Nowadays I follow fashion, always wear lipstick, scream when I see bugs and like my cushions to match the decor at home. But I wasn't always like that .....

All dressed up for my country hoe down housewarming party!
I think the look I was going for was a cross between Dolly Parton and Daisy Duke!!

Growing up my Mum had to beg and bribe me to put on a dress and I'd only agree to get out of my jeans once a year for a special occasion! My idea of dressing up was wearing clear mascara and my hair in a pony tail. I use to collect spiders from the shearing shed on the farm and bring them up to the house in a jar until my Dad would find them and make me take the creepy crawlies back again!

When my girlfriends suggested we all head to the Kalgoorlie Cup this year for a weekend of fun and festivities that country girl inside me got all excited .... red dirt, sunny days and laid back people sounds like an amazing adventure!

It's time for this city girl to go country again!
Outback wrangling in Queensland!
For those who are wondering where the heck Kalgoorlie is - it's an outback town in the far west of Western Australia about 6 hours drive from Perth. I've been to Kalgoorlie a couple of times - I've gone by car, train, bus and plane. This time around we're catching a plane because it's the quickest way to get there, it takes 1 hour which means we'll get the most out of our weekend away.

To paint a picture of Kalgoorlie ..... there's red dirt everywhere (so don't wear all white!), barren but beautiful landscapes, clear blue skys, stinking hot days and chilly cool nights. It's an outback country town probably best known for the number of pubs on the towns main street - finding a cold beer here is never a problem.
Roadside views like this are seen on the way to Kalgoorlie
Our beautiful rustic Australian bush
The event that a lot of visitors come for is the Kalgoorlie Cup which is on 19 - 20 September this year and the place to be is Tentland with food, drinks, entertainment and of course horse races! I love watching the horses line up ready to race and the excitement as the horses and their jockeys power towards the finishing line ..... I hope I pick some winners!
I can't wait for this girls weekend away .... the promise of an adventure awaits and it's definitely helping me beat the travel bug with a holiday at home.

I'll let you know how our weekend away goes and remember you can keep up to date with my adventures on Facebook and Instagram too!

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[First 2 images my own - Special thanks to Dakota Johnston for last 2 images]

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Laundry Renovation - Flat Pack Cabinet Assembly And Installation

After a lot of planning we picked out the flat pack cabinets and accessories for our laundry renovation and then it was the fun part - assembling them and installation.
In all honesty, this is what you pay more money for when choosing flat packs Vs a cabinet maker - for someone elses time to put it all together and install because the carcases of the cabinets are pretty much made from the same materials.

The base and wall cabinets went together quickly without any problems but the drawer for the pull out caddy took a bit longer to work out.
So just how much time did it take to put these flat packs together?
Our flat packs for the laundry
4 hours
To do: 1 base cabinet, 1 drawer base cabinet and 2 wall cabinets
Base cabinet and drawer cabinet assembled
Upper head cabinets assembled
Now to get these babies in place and installed in the laundry. Starting with the base cupboards we worked from the corner and installed the drawer cabinet and base cabinet, made sure they were level, then screwed into the wall.
Instead of buying another side panel to go against the drawer cabinet up against the wall which you wouldn't even see, we cut off a piece from the kick panel and used that. It fit perfectly and saved us $90.
Base cabinet, drawer cabinet and end panel made from kick panel in place
Next was to install the other end panel and fit the bench top (I will do a separate post about our $99 bench transformation). 
Mr P spent hours making supports using the left over kick panel so there was more than just the end panel holding up the bench top for extra strength - but we realised the supports wouldn't fit due to the height of the washing machine. So in the end we used some simple metal brackets, which fit perfectly and took up less space than the kick panel turned brackets.
Take my advice .... always measure your appliances first so you don't waste your time!
We also had a delay with the end panel as it was bent when we unwrapped it. Thankfully it was an easy exchange at the store for another side panel. Once the side panel was installed all the base flat packs were officially in!
Second time lucky just making sure this panel was straight!
Now onto the upper head cabinets .... we worked out the right height (not too high so I can reach the shelves easily!) and then attached a level piece of wood to the wall to act as a guide for placing the cabinets above and it also took some of the weight off me trying to hold them up for Mr P to screw them into place.
Working out the heights first
Attaching a piece of wood to act as a guide
Drilling out a hole in the cupboard for the air conditioner tap to come out the wall
A perfect fit - that's why you measure a dozen times just to be sure!
A plug and a screw and drill straight through the cabinet into the brick to secure to the wall
Fitting the end panel
Fitting the other end panel and making sure all the cabinets were square and lined up
Upper head cupboards in and doors attached
All the flat packs, bench top and trough are in
We will put the handles on later and remove all the protective film once we've finished working in here - no the cabinets aren't blue, they're a gorgeous glossy white!
Now we can get our tiler back to do the splash back tile behind the laundry bench and powder room vanity, and to finish the kick tile as well.
We then need to paint, paint and paint some more and I'm really excited to be partnering with Dulux for a painting project again!
After a few weeks delay things are back on track with the laundry renovation .....If you want to see our progress to date check out these posts:

Sharing with link parties:
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Home Coming - The DIYers
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday and Before and After Wednesday

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