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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Backyard Makeover With Some Patio Pimping

It has been a couple of months since we did any gardening or tidying up in our backyard and with us hosting Christmas Day that was enough motivation to get stuck in and make it look as good as we could. So over the last few weekends we've done a bit here and there - ripped down the old patio fence, put up new shade cloth, set up a swimming pool, laid pavers to it, synthetic turf, lights and some decor.
The patio brushwood fence we pulled down before it fell down a few months ago but I didn't like how open it made the backyard and wanted some privacy around the patio again. We had some leftover cream coloured shade cloth and our lovely neighbor saw us working and offered some mesh panels he had and they fit the length of the patio perfectly. So we pushed in some steel pickets and attached the mesh to the steel pickets and patio beams, then attached the shade cloth to the mesh with some wire. It took us just a few hours and we had our new shade cloth fence up and privacy was restored!
The lawn we laid out the backyard died last summer and Lexi our backyard destroyer has since turned the backyard into a big black sand pit. So we decided this was the perfect spot to set up our $150 swimming pool under the shade of the gum tree to cool off in on Christmas Day and through the Summer. Mr P prepared the ground shovelling sand out the way and checking it was flat with a level, the preparation is always the most important step if you do that right you shouldn't have any dramas with the pool leaking. I won't mention that this dusty sand shovelling happened AFTER we had swept and cleaned the patio and wiped all the chairs and tables clean and they all got covered in dust and I had to do it all over again the next day! No I won't mention that little hiccup :P
The pool took us about 45 minutes to set up and 6 hours to fill with water so it wasn't until the next day that we could lay the pavers. We raked and flattened the ground from the patio to the pool and laid some pavers that were given to us for free by a friend a few weeks ago. By now it was Christmas Eve the sun was setting so we popped a nice chilled bottle of sparkling and had a drink while we lugged 80 odd pavers from the garage out the back down the steps to the pool. They did the job they will make it easier to get to the pool and hopefully stop too much sand and dirt getting into the water.
The small garden bed along the back of house is also now a sand pit after the few plants we had there got crushed or we transplanted them when we installed the french doors. There will eventually be a deck built out here so we aren't too fussed on putting a garden bed in but still want it to look nice and dirty sand just ain't doing it! So we headed to Bunnings just before closing time for some artificial turf and got the last few metres off a roll so they gave us an extra 1.5 metres for free which we cut off the excess and laid near the pool.
Oh and how about my pair of flamingos! Aren't they awesome? Because they're metal I think they'll last well in the weather unlike the plastic type ones I've seen in stores. And best of all Lexi won't chew them either. I've already had heaps of comments about them I think they add a bit of fun and colour to the garden and they were such a good price too. My favourite part of the makeover for sure!

Our patio is pretty big it's a great size and has a really high ceiling but it is old and rusty and I'm sure it's just one more Winter away from falling down on one side where the metal has totally rusted away. Until we need to pull it down and build another one we are making the most of what we have but it was in dire need of some pimping! We hung Christmas jingle bells and disco balls from fishing line and the disco balls reflect the sunlight and pretty light patterns play up all around the patio and they even reach inside the kitchen through the french doors.
The paper flowers came flat packed and I spent about an hour fanning out the papers to make them look like flowers but I think they look really good for just a few dollars they've made a big impact hung together in a cluster. I got them for Christmas but I really like them so they'll be staying up there now until the weather gets to them!
The fairy lights are the longest I could find at 40 metres and we threaded them all along the centre beams of the patio roof and they get plugged into the granny flat power. I don't know why I waited so long to get some fairy lights, it's amazing what lighting can do to a space they really create a nice atmosphere and are much better party lighting than the flood lights being on!
The bridge from the back door out to the granny flat and backyard needed some cheering up and these blue solar lanterns did just the trick, they look pretty in the day time and at night light up really well it's hard to believe they are solar powered by the sun they are pretty bright. The plants and hanging baskets I thought were a pretty good deal as they included the funky orange pot and so long as the plants survive my black thumb and I remember to water them they'll do just fine!
I'm pretty happy with what we did to the backyard and I guess I'm starting to look at it like the inside of the house, add a bit of colour, decor and creativity and it turns a boring backyard into a space ready for the festive season and Summer entertaining.
Backyard makeover budget:
3.5 mtrs artificial turf, Bunnings  $75
Pavers, free from friend  $0
Shade cloth, steel pickets, wire - already had  $0
Mesh panels for patio, free from neighbor  $0
Blue solar lights, Target $20
40 mtrs fairy lights, The Reject Shop $25
Hanging pots and plants, Bunnings $18
Disco balls 6 pack, Thingz Living $5
Jingle bells 6 pack, Red Dot $1
Paper flowers 3 packs, The Reject Shop $9
Flamingos, Kmart $24
Do you have any tips for turning a boring backyard into a pretty festive entertaining space?
[All images my own]
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Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas Everyone!

With Christmas Day just around the corner and all the frantic happenings at home trying to get the house looking good, pimping and prettying up the patio, preparing the food, wrapping presents, .... you get the idea I'm sure you're all going through the same thing!
I just want to say a big thanks to my readers who have been there for me this year and to my new followers joining me - thanks for your support and encouragement it really means a lot when you stop by and share your advice, thoughts and ideas with me so thank you!
I wish you all have a fantastic Christmas season surrounded by your friends and family and those that mean the most to you right by your side. Drink and be merry, eat all the naughty foods and don't feel guilty about it, enjoy yourself it's Christmas!
I look forward to sharing lots more on the blog in the new year .... renovations and DIY how to projects, tasty recipes and entertaining ideas, travel tips and musings, more book and product reviews and giveaways planned!
Cheers and Merry Christmas!
[Image via My Pinterest here and here]
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Ridge Organics Giveaway - And The Winner Is

Thanks to everyone who entered my Ridge Organics cleaning products giveway .... you guys left some great cleaning tips which I have taken on board to help make cleaning that little bit easier!
I also want to say a big welcome to my new readers on Bloglovin, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ... please be sure to keep in touch and check back in for some exciting renovation and DIY projects planned for the new year.
Thanks to Rafflecopter this giveaway was easy to pick a winner (yes I admit easier than my names in a wine glass trick!) 
And the winner is Sara W .... Congratulations! I will be in touch to arrange for your Ridge Organics products to be sent to you ... I'm sure it will help to clean up after those Christmas festivities!
For readers that missed out, why not shop online at the Ridge Organics store and take advantage of their free shipping on orders over $90.
Thanks again for entering!

Note: This giveaway had to be redrawn as the first winner Meredith was not from Australia and therefore not eligible to win.

[All images my own]

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Review and Preview: The Girl In The Yellow Vest by Loretta Hill

This was my first time reading a book on my shiny new Nexis 7 tablet on the Kindle app eReader .... and I never thought I'd say this but I really loved using the eReader it was so easy to read from and more accessible for me to carry around with me and use on the buss or on the couch at home so I found myself reading a lot more, although that could be something to do with this book I couldn't put it down!

Having an eReader also means I'll have more opportunities to take part in book reviews and previews thanks to Random House Books and NetGalley so stay tuned for some great sneak peaks into soon to be published books!

I'm taking part in the blog tour for the book The Girl in the Yellow Vest by Loretta Hill that is due to be published in January 2014. This is Loretta's 3rd book and I really liked that she is from my town of Perth, Western Australia.
This is a modern day young adult romantic fiction story that starts in Perth, Western Australia and works it's way over to Queensland.

It is based around the fly in fly out mining industry that Australian's are all too familiar with and it touches on how this hard working life can take it's toll on the people that work away from their families to provide for them. I really connected with this side of the story having friends and family involved in mining I could relate to what happens out there and visualise where the story was being told.

The heart of the story is based around 4 characters that are in a bit of a love triangle, I pretty much spent the whole time reading with frustration just wishing they would hook up already but they keep missing the signals each time which had me reading late into the night to find out what would happen.

Each chapter was laid out with each character telling their own side of the story. I really liked each of the characters they were described and understood really well and this is not always easy to do with multiple characters, it can be confusing working out who is who.

I really enjoyed this book, it would make a perfect summer time read this holiday's when it's due to be released in book stores in January 2014.

I recommend this book to fellow Australians or anyone interested in the mining industry as it's a great insight into life of the fly in fly out worker. Young adults and romantics at heart will also enjoy this read.
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 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
The Girl In The Yellow Vest can be purchased from Random House Australia here.
Sharing my book review on Random House here and Good Reads here.
Disclosure: Random House and NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote their product. As part of this promotion I was given this eBook published by Bantam Australia to review. I have not received any payment or compensation for this review. I have not been told what to say about this product, I am free to form my own opinion and share them in my own words. All opinions are my own.

[Image via RandomHouse]
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How Would You Wrap And Present Home Made Bread?

While I love to use my bread maker and drag it out of the cupboard at least once a month to bake a delicious loaf of home made bread, I'm having a bit of an issue when I bake a loaf and want to take with me to share with my friends or colleagues because I have no idea how to wrap it and keep it all covered so it stays fresh and so it still looks pretty and presentable.

Baking paper doesn't quite cover the edges. Plastic bags make it sweat. I don't have any plastic ware deep enough for the loaf that won't squash it. I'm all out of ideas!

I was up late this week baking my sweet scented loaf of ginger bread for Mr P to take to work for a Christmas treat for the lads, only to be told by Mr P in the morning as I was frantically trying to wrap it in baking paper that men at his work are too busy to slice and butter bread. Well pfffffft to you too buddy! So I took it to my work instead where my female dominated office with their dainty office hands were happy to slice, toast, butter and jam up the bread for morning tea! Except that half the loaf was exposed around the sides with the baking paper I used ... on the plus side the tinsel looked pretty and festive!
Take my pina colada bread that I baked to take to a friend's Hen's Party ... this loaf was one of my favourites it had pineapple pieces, coconut and bacardi rum and it really did taste like pina colada! It was perfect with some sweet dried apricot cream cheese spread on top and washed down with a glass of bubbles. But how is one to wrap the pina colada bread securely to carry in a taxi with a group of giggling girls to the Hen's Party? I wrapped it a few times in baking paper and secured with fluro string and attached a balloon that I happened to come home with at a Hen's Party the weekend before! It looked cool but a little messy and really hard to unwrap all those layers of paper ... especially after a few glasses of bubbles!
Having bread at home isn't a problem, I slice it up on my big wooden serving board and then what is left over I place in a sandwich bag and put it in the freezer to make toast or breadcrumbs from. To be honest, there isn't usually a lot left over I bake the smallest loaf and they are a perfect size for the two of us. This is the only plain loaf I have baked in the bread maker, just a simple plain white loaf made with organic flour nothing fancy but perfect for toasties or fresh salad sandwiches.

My favourite savoury loaf was this Sour Cream and Chilli Bread which was a perfect accompaniment to my Mexican inspired dinner of chilli con carne. I think we pretty much finished the whole loaf that night with dinner so there was no packaging issues there!
As much as I love to bake bread, I really need to find a way to wrap and present it better.
How would you wrap and present a home made loaf of bread?
[All images my own]
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Ridge Organics - Product Review and Giveaway

I'll admit it I'm the kind of girl who is a surface cleaner. That means I'll wipe all the bench tops clean and make it look presentable and neat and tidy at a glance, but just don't go checking under the couch or fridge because those dust bunnies can be scary!

So when Ridge Organics offered to send me some cleaning products to try I was a little hesitant because that would mean I'd actually have to tackle those dust bunnies after all. Then I remembered I have Mr P and I's family of 30 arriving on the doorstop on Christmas Day, who will no doubt want to look around at all our recent renovations which includes where those dust bunnies are lurking.

It's time to give the house a good going over and make it spick and span!

Ridge Organics is an online company founded 3 years ago and run by husband and wife duo Jo and Nick. Jo, being a registered nurse was big on environmental issues and the health benefits of using natural products. Thus all their products are natural, certified organic, fair traded, and are good for our bodies and the environment. They stock everything from cleaning, to bath and body, to baby products.

I tried cleaning products from the Ecover range - I used the washing powder and after tearing open the box I realised the pourer was built into the side of the box and I probably didn't need to open the box lid at all. I couldn't find a scoop, so used one that I had. I used it for whites, darks and colours and all came out fresh and clean without smelling overpowering.

I also used the stain remover which got out the dirt and grease stains on Mr P's work shirts. I really liked the brush on the top of the remover so you could work in the product with the brush. I found it heaps easier than using a spray style stain remover that you have to rub in with your hands. This was my favourite product of the ones I received for that very reason!

Even though I have my awesome new dishwasher I still need to hand wash the pots and pans and some of my delicate items like my hand painted wine glasses. The washing up detergent had a lovely fresh lemony smell and left the glasses clean and streak free. It also fit in nicely in my cleaning caddy under the sink.

The multi purpose cleaner I used by filling up a bowl with warm water and adding half a cap full - I used it on all my granite bench tops in the kitchen, I cleaned the bathroom cabinet, the wall tiles and the glass basins, and even the laundry trough and toilet. You can use it on floors as well so I'm going to try it on my jarrah floorboards next. It's definitely a multi use product and would save you from having 5 different cleaners when essentially this can do them all in one.

I really liked using these products they did the job well and made everything smell fresh and clean. I would recommend these to people who like to use natural products that are safe for them and the environment.

For my readers who also need to get into cleaning mode to get your house ready for Christmas or dare I say the aftermath of cleaning up after all the festivities are over! I have a Ridge Organics Ecover cleaning pack to giveaway valued at $45 AUD RRP.

To enter the giveaway, please complete the options on the Rafflecopter form below. You must be a follower of Jarrah Jungle and answer the giveaway question How do you make housework and cleaning that little bit easier?  Please leave your answer in a blog comment.

Giveaway open to Australian Residents only. Giveaway ends on 20 December 2013, 7pm WST. Winner will be drawn at random on Rafflecopter and announced over the weekend. 

Good luck everyone!

Disclosure: Ridge Organics partner with bloggers such as me to help promote their product. As part of this promotion I was invited to review products from their range and a Ridge Organics pack to giveaway. I have not been told what to say about this product, I am free to form my own opinion and share them in my own words. All opinions are my own. Prize will be posted to winner direct from company. This prize cannot be exchanged for money.

[All images my own]
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