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Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Courtyard Project - The Walls Are Built

No sooner had the paint dried on the walls in the kitchen that we have turned our attention to the front of the house design and getting the courtyard project underway.

Let's take you back and show you how our house looked before the renovations .... If you can tear your eyes away from ugly for a second you can see how the huge tree took up all the land at the front and the land was sunken and uneven making the whole area un-usable wasted space. This part of the project that we have just completed is to fill and level out the land and build a limestone and brick courtyard around the front of house which means we can make use of all that space, add security and privacy, and an outdoor room.

Before the exterior renovations - Go here for progress to date

The courtyard was approved by our Local Council earlier this year but we have been waiting until the Winter weather cleared to start on outside work.

Last month things started to progress when Spring arrived and with a break in the rain we organised for the concrete footings to be poured for the base of the courtyard walls. Although we did the footings for our garage ourselves these footings were a lot bigger around 38M2 this time so we had help digging out the front and pouring the concrete

Then we had to find a limestone company to build the courtyard retaining and walls from limestone and bricks. We discovered that most bricklayers aren't equipped for this type of work as you need a bobcat to move the big metre long limestone blocks and the smaller blocks are also too heavy to lift with your hands trust me, I couldn't even lift 1 block and Mr P struggled to move the leftover blocks one at a time on a trolley!

The smaller limestone blocks used for infill

We contacted 3 companies for quotes, 2 came back verbal and the 3rd was in writing and we choose the 3rd as they specialise in retaining blocks of land (which was our biggest challenge with the angle of our land) it's a small family run business, they seemed to know what they were talking about and were keen on the job and could start the following week. We got the quote down from $13,800 they added in to retain the driveway as well and reduced the quote to $12,450.

They organised all the materials: the 1 metre limestone blocks, smaller blocks, pillar caps, etc. All we had to organise was the sand to be delivered. Let me just say, it was a nice change to not have to do all the running around and just let these guys get on with ordering the supplies and doing the work.

So .... this is how the Courtyard project has progressed these last few weeks

Once we signed up with the limestone lads and paid a deposit, they started the following week and were at the house bright and early cranking up the bobcat and the wet saw and cutting blocks and building the courtyard walls. They finished building the courtyard in just 6 days all up .... I still can't believe how quickly it was built!

Bobcat ready and rearing to start work

The large metre long limestone blocks were delivered and the retaining wall around the base of the courtyard were built on top of the concrete footings that had been poured a few weeks before.

First row of retaining blocks laid

The next day they laid another few rows of retaining blocks and when I say a few more I mean enough to hold up a small village, mountain, or to fill in some sunken uneven land such as ours! They also laid the first row along the entire border of the courtyard walls.

Second lot of retaining

Can you believe it is 4 rows of blocks deep!

On the weekend we spent a few hours waterproofing the inside of this wall to protect it from water damage as it will be under the ground so deep on this side. We applied the waterproofing with a cheap paint roller kit and paint brush.

Applying the waterproofing

Doing a great job as always babe :)

We also laid a drainage hose which we covered with a few bags of gravel. We then connected a pipe to the drainage hose and will connect it all to our soak wells once we have installed them.

Laying the drainage hose

Covered in gravel and connected to the pipe

When the guys returned on Monday morning we asked them to go another row higher with the retaining wall at the front of the courtyard, as you can see the front row was still quite low compared to the level of the land. We were worried about it not being strong enough to hold up the weight of the sand that will lean on it from the front and also when we install the fence panels the sand will fall through which won't look very good or be supportive enough.

Retaining with 1 row of blocks

Retaining with another row of blocks - much better, safer and stronger

We had one of those shit happens moments when we ordered the sand and specifically told the driver to dump it on our driveway in front of the garage door ... and they did the total opposite and dumped it on the other side of the house right in front of the bobcat! The next day I was stressing about the guys not being able to get the bobcat out and thinking I'd have to start moving the sand by hand with a shovel! But luckily they just used the bobcat to pick up the sand and dump it over the top of the wall until they'd moved enough to get the bobcat out. Phew there's nothing these guys couldn't do!

Sand blocking the bobcat in

If you can't go past it you go over the top!
The pillars were then marked out as to where they would be built evenly spaced across the courtyard. We were a bit worried about the height of them but it couldn't really be helped due to the staggering height of the retaining walls and we wanted to keep the pillars all the same height which aesthetically we think will look better.

X marks the spot!

Pillars built

Once all the retaining walls and the pillars were done, the smaller blocks were laid in between as the infill. Doing it this way makes the pillars look 3D and they become the feature in the wall.

View from inside the courtyard

View front outside the courtyard

View from the driveway side

Next we decided what caps we wanted for the top of the pillars. We didn't want the pyramid style we wanted something a bit more modern like a flat style. The limestone guys ran around until they could find us some flat caps that we liked, ordered them in and fitted them in a day.

Fancy flat caps fitted

All the caps fitted

The last day they did the tuck pointing which is filling in any holes or chips in the bricks and making them all smooth and pretty. And without stating the obvious there was also truck loads of sand dumped and then leveled out with the bobcat in the centre of the courtyard to fill and level it with the front of the house - remember how it looked before? It's so much better now it's added more living space and I can't wait for it to be all landscaped and ready to sit and watch the sunset with a glass of vino!

Tuck pointing all done

Courtyard walls built - ready for the fence infill panels now

This weekend's task is to measure between the pillars so we can order the fence infill panels. We have already worked out our exterior colours and will get the jarrah look metal panels to match our garage door. We will also get a gate made for this part of the courtyard which will give us more security and privacy. The fence and gate will be a DIY kit that we'll order and install ourselves.

A new gate will go here

There's something missing - the mailbox was meant to be built into the brick pillar of the fence according to the plans but the pillars weren't wide enough which meant they would have made them weak or possibly damage it if we had them cut in a mail box. So we are going to attach a mail box to the fence panels instead which I think will look really sleek and modern.

Now we are working on the driveway which is booked in to be poured next week so I'll share the progress on that part of the project soon.

For updates on the Courtyard project (and everything else happening in the Jarrah Jungle household!) follow me on Facebook and you'll never miss a thing!

[All images my own]
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cruise Ship Interior Design By Genevieve Gorder

Last month the Royal Caribbean cruise line announced the Quantum Experience Advisors Program which is a group of celebrity experts working on the interior design of their Quantum class cruise ships. This includes their brand new cruise ship Quantum of the Seas which is set to debut in November 2014.

I've cruised on different lines before but it will be my first time cruising with Royal Caribbean next month on the Voyager of the Seas ... maybe Quantum of the Seas will be on the next cruise wish list!

One of my all time favourite interior designers Genevieve Gorder who I watch all the time on HGTV and still intend to steal her idea for an outdoor railing project is part of the program and is working hand in hand with the Royal Caribbean design team assisting with the decor and furnishings of the lofts and suites on board.

I'm amazed by the interior design of ships, they are so opulent and beautifully decorated you forget you are floating on the ocean you are transformed to such a glamorous styled space. I can't imagine being inside a room designed by Genevieve .... I would be beyond excited!


I can't wait to see what designs they come up with and with Genevieve on the team I'm sure the rooms will look incredible.

Hopefully one day I'll join a cruise on the Quantum of the Seas and see the interior designs for myself!

[Images via 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Tea Towel + Frame = Easy Kitchen Art

I'm sure you'll agree there's some tea towels that are just too nice to use to dry up with and whenever I put out my fancy ones for dinner parties they always end up mopping up red wine and getting stained! So I decided to give one of my favourite tea towels the royal treatment - iron it (that will be a first!), frame it and hang it on the wall for it to live a life free from stains and sogginess!
I picked this funky Wake Up And Smell The Coffee tea towel that my awesome book club girls gave me for my Birthday this year. It's bold words answer my love of typography and the saying will be perfect over the coffee station which has been on my kitchen renovation wish list.
Now to find my iron that is packed away in the abyss because it only makes an appearance once a year or so ...  I placed another tea towel over it to protect the print so it wouldn't melt and gave it a really good iron until it was flat and smooth.

Next was to find a frame to fit the tea towel and for this I carried my tape measure with me EVERYWHERE looking in EVERY shop for the right sized frame. I wanted a black solid frame to give it a gallery type look and in the end I found this one, although it doesn't have the mat surround because it was for a collage of photos, the frame was the right size and after months of hunting I couldn't bare to look any more!
I laid the tea towel into the frame and smoothed it out flat and then placed the cardboard backing on top with the plain side down to provide a back so you couldn't see through the fabric.
I pulled the tea towel taunt and folded it around the cardboard backing and then secured it with painters tape. I used tape as it's less permanent and can be removed easily if I want to change tea towels. It also meant I didn't have to cut the tea towel in case I want to use it again. I then replaced the backing of the frame and it was ready to hang.
My super handy Mr P hung it for me late last night after I fluttered my eyelashes and with the promise of my home made Pineapple Streusel cake baking and smelling delicious in the oven.
Here's a tip: When drilling a hole hold a dust pan underneath to catch all dust .... no mess to clean up!
The coffee print is perfect to go above the coffee station and is the first thing you see when you walk into the kitchen. I can stand and read it while I'm impatiently waiting for the coffee machine to make my morning hit of goodness.

What do you think of using tea towels as art?
[All images my own]


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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Photo A Day: October Days 19 - 25

Here is my third round up of October's Photo A Day challenge which I'm joining in with Fat Mum Slim. I did really well taking photos each day (which is the whole point of this challenge!) and didn't use any of my archive photos which is a damn good effort if I don't say so myself!
You can see photos from my October days 1 - 9 here and 10 - 18 here
These are Days 19 - 25 of photos from the prompts above ...
19 A good day updating my recipe book; 20 Oven door is open my pork roast won't crackle!
21 Then + Now We turned a window into a door
22 Bling I bought with $5 of change; 23 My mood today is keeping calm
24 Darkly Dreaming Dearly Devoted Dexter; 25 Lexi welcoming me home
Is anyone else playing along with FMS Photo A Day?
Let me know so I can follow along with you!

You can find and follow mine on my Facebook page here
[1st Image via Fat Mum Slim all other images my own]
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Book Club: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The October Book Club read was Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Code Name Verity is a story told by 2 young women in the 1920s who worked as service women in the war. Set in the era when women had different rights to men and in war time how things changed and they allowed women to serve in the war although not always seen as equal and having to work twice as hard as men and often were twice as good at it!
The story is told by 2 characters and split into 2 chapters, it is rough and tumble honest writing coming straight from their minds and hearts and spilling onto the page. The first half of the book is told by Queenie a Scottish girl captured by the Germans and thought to be a spy and the second half is told by Maddie who flys planes for the British Army  - both tell their tale of how they came to be where they are.  

This was a fantastic story, from the first few lines I was hooked and had to keep reading to see where this adventure would take me. The characters are so likeable they became like my best friends by the end. I think this book would have been easier to follow if it was in 3 chapters, the first about their friendship as it was a bit confusing working out who was narrating at times, then the Queenie and Maddie chapters.
I would recommend this book as young adult fiction and anyone with an interest in aviation. I especially think women will enjoy the friendship in this book.
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

[Image via Goodreads]
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kitchen Renovation: Jarrah Jungle Painting Team

It is very surreal to know that after 4 years of living with our 1960s original kitchen and dining and then 6 months of renovating it's actually finished and looks every bit as awesome as I imagined it would be.
I'm now playing catch up on the blog and have some progress posts to share with you before I do THE BIG AFTER REVEAL. Truth be told I have one more DIY art work to do and hang and then I'll be able to take photos and show the whole renovation off in all it's glory.
But until then, here's the paint-a-thon run by the Jarrah Jungle painting team ... Mr P and yours truly :)
Once the walls were prepped, plastered and sanded with the help of some Trojan Tools we were ready to paint the kitchen and dining room. First a coat of undercoat white paint went onto the walls. A lot of the painting was done in the evening after we finished work so I was cooking dinner while Mr P was painting .... See I told you we make a great painting team!
We only managed to get an undercoat on the walls before the splash back was installed so then once it was in we had to tape up everything to paint the walls and window frame. Proof that I do let Mr P stop work to eat occasionally ... I keep his strength up with my Sandwich Queen prowess ;)
Mr P cuts in with a paint brush he's really good at it, whereas I look like a 5 year old learning to colour in the lines! I come along with the paint roller and fill in the walls. Team work at it's best! 

Sometimes Mr P lets me use the brush to clean up the drip marks which makes me feel very special can't you tell :) But then it's back to the roller back to doing what I do best!
Mr P worked his way around all the door frames of which there were 4 in total ... the hallway, living room and laundry plus the new french doors.
You feel like you've made big progress when the first coat of colour goes on the walls, Dulux Mountain Peak is our paint colour it's a crisp light grey and we've painted the whole house in the same colour so it flows. The walls got 2 coats of colour then they were done.
The moment of truth is always pulling the tape away to see how the paint looks and how well our cutting in really is ... I always get butterfly's of excitement and nerves at this point waiting to see the finished product. It looks fantastic, so happy with it and now we deserve a wine or three ... Cheers!
After all that painting work the fun bit is always decorating and furnishing and bringing the rooom to life. Here's how it turned out with the new dining room furniture and clock and art wall project in place.

It has taken me a few weeks to adjust and believe that the kitchen renovation is actually finished and even after we bought the fridge back inside after 6 months of walking into the garage every time we needed something, Mr P walked straight past it and into the garage carrying bottles of wine thinking the fridge was still in there!
So happy it's done and another big project ticked off the Jarrah Jungle renovation hit list.

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[All images my own]
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