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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas + A New Year Wish

It's that time of year again when I'm getting ready to sign off the blog for the year

But before I do I just want to share a little recap of life and home lately and what the future holds for the Jarrah Jungle blog in 2016 .....

On life lately .....

This year I've had so many highs with some of the most special moments of my life ..... I had an amazing engagement party, a dream wedding, married the love of my life and had some awesome honeymoon adventures travelling around the USA. 

But I've also had some lows health-wise which has knocked me for a spin and I'm still recovering from. When you have issues with your health you really start to re-evaluate your life and the way that you live, who you want to spend your time with and what you want to spend your time doing.

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately and hope that 2016 will bring more of what makes me happy and my heart sing!

On the home front

The plan for next year on the home front is to finish our house renovations so we can spend time in the house and really enjoy what we've done before we sell it and move on - we will most likely sell our beloved Jarrah Jungle next year and also the block that we are subdividing.

It is really just the exterior we are working on now - in the backyard we need to put up fences, a deck and landscape and in the front yard we also need to landscape. 

The inside of the house has been finished and completely renovated which is a great feeling and I just love what we've done with our own hands - our blood, sweat and tears have turned a neglected old house into our very own love shack and beloved home.

On being an office chick ... for 19 years!

On the work front I have 2 weeks off while the office shuts down for the Christmas Break and will re-open in the New Year. I love that the whole company closes so everyone has a break.

When I go back to work in January 2016 - this will mark 19 years that I've worked with the same company which is more than half my life and is just an incredible milestone for me. In January 2017 I will get my 20 years long service leave (I've already had my 10 years long service leave!) which is something I'm very much looking forward to!

I have worked full time, 5 days a week, for 19 years, without any more than the standard 4 weeks leave a year - that's a lot of alarm clocks I've hit the snooze button on over the years! 

On the blog - Jarrah Jungle

I have been wondering about the future of my blog for 2016 - I've been blogging for 5 years now and it still feeds my creative side and I feel proud of the Jarrah Jungle name that I've created. 

But people are blogging a lot less nowadays and instead are choosing to share via social media - tweeting, instagraming or posting on Facebook. Social media is great for quick engagement but I still think you need the blog as a landing pad. 

Whilst it takes more time and effort to blog, I know my blog will always be here like a journal recording my recipes, book reviews and renovations to date - social media just can't do that as it only holds the most recent information and the rest seems to fall down a black hole and disappear.

I will have to wait and see what the future holds for my beloved Jarrah Jungle blog but one thing I know for sure is that I want to continue writing and creating and sharing content here with you all. I just hope that you will still be on the other side reading and sharing the journey with me! 

There are some exciting and challenging times ahead in the New Year and I'll be back rested and rearing to go in early January 2016.

You can always find me sharing snippets of what's happening on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

I want to say a big thank you to all my readers near and far for your comments and kind words throughout the year you guys are awesome! 

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with your family, friends, and those that mean the most to you and my wish for you in 2016 is good health and happiness XXX

See you next year!

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Club Book Review: Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty

My Book Club's book choice for the month of November was Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

This is the last book we will read for the year as we have a break in December and then our next book club meet up is in January.

My favourite book club reads this year are The Book Of You - if you love a good thriller you must check it out and this one Big Little Lies - both awesome reads I can't recommend enough!

This is also the last book review I'll do this year - I've read and reviewed 35 books on the blog in 2015!

This is a story told by 3 very different school Mums who become friends as their kids start kindergarten school together.

The story of each of the women's home lives is intertwined with comments from the Police interviewing people at the school about a crime that is committed, but you don't know what the crime is or who the crime is against until the very end.

This was a very funny, fast paced, modern story which dealt with real issues like domestic abuse and bullying, but in a very smart way. I would not call this a mystery or thriller, but more chick literature with a good solid message behind it and a dash of humour thrown in.

The mystery of the crime held out until the very end which makes this such a brilliant read, it kept me entertained and guessing until the last page.

It had everything that makes it a brilliant book - likable and realistic characters, believable lifestyles, I could imagine that this is what life would be like if I had kids that were in school !

I recommend this book to anyone who likes fast paced, entertaining, funny and witty chick literature and Liane Moriarty fans.

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

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Recipe: Gin And Tonic Oysters

I had to bring a starter for an early Christmas dinner get together with family last weekend and of course it had to be a seafood starter because Christmas in Australia is all about fresh seafood!

Us newlyweds have been indulging in Coffin Bay, South Australian oysters which we shuck ourselves just before serving which means they keep as fresh as can be and still taste like the sea. 

I wanted to make a simple and light dressing to go with the oysters and came across this Gin And Tonic Oysters recipe which I altered slightly - there isn't actually any tonic water in it as the cucumber and rocket juice provide a similar bitter tang that compliments the fresh oysters perfectly.


Gin and Tonic Oysters
Makes 24 dressed oysters

24 Oysters (I used Coffin Bay, South Australian), shucked
1 small Lebanese cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped, 
  plus 2 tbs finely chopped cucumber for garnish
1 handful of rocket leaves
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp caster sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbs gin

1. Juice the cucumber and rocket together. Then separate the liquid from the solids through a fine sieve. Discard the solids.

2. Mix together the lemon juice and sugar, adjusting juice and sugar ratios until it tastes like sweet lemonade.

3. Add all ingredients together - salt, gin, lemon juice and cucumber juice and mix well.

4. Add finely chopped cucumber for garnish.

5. Pour into a bottle with lid and keep in the fridge until ready to serve. 

6. Shuck 24 fresh oysters and arrange on a platter. 

7. Spoon dressing over each oyster ...... and enjoy!

This is a perfect starter dish you can make ahead of time and then simply shuck the oysters and dress the oysters before serving

What's your favourite way to dress oysters?

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Newlyweds Christmas ... Merry Kissmas!

I change my Christmas decorating theme every year depending on what's happening in the Jarrah Jungle home and so far over the years I've had .....

2009 - Our first Christmas
2010 - Christmas when renovation 
2011 - Christmas tree blue and silver
2012 - Christmas tree with pink, purple, blue and silver
2013 - Christmas tree with pink, purple, blue and silver
2014 - Decorating with a bright and happy vibe

In 2015 I'm going with a newlyweds theme because it's Mr P and I's first Christmas 
as husband and wife. Plus my word for 2015 is "LOVE" so it's the perfect theme!

Every year Mr P mentions that our Christmas tree is far too big for the house and every year I gush about how much I love it and it's not going anywhere!

This year the Christmas Tree is decorated with blues, purples, pinks and silver.

I've decorated with special decor from the engagement and wedding including my DIYed wedding bouquet

I'm not afraid to use lots of bright colours around the house as you can see even my wall art has had the festive treatment this year!

My gallery wall of art has had a bit of a change up with the addition of my custom Jarrah Jungle art from Minted.

Special ornaments from our honeymoon travels across the USA take pride of place here too.

My DIY painted birdcage has made an appearance again with baubles and birds.

I've created a couple of vignettes in the dining room and living room too.

My kitchen is looking bright and festive with it's Christmas shelfie and the dining room table is laid with Christmas cheer!

And I couldn't forget to decorate outside, now that I've added some pots and plants to the front path it's looking much more inviting by the front door.

I love seeing the Christmas tree and all the decorations up in the house it makes me excited for the Summer holidays and festivities ahead.

Now I need to finish shopping and wrap some presents to put under the tree!

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Review: The Taco Cleanse By Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanch, Molly Frisinger and Jessica Morris

This is a book review of The Taco Cleanse by Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanch, Molly Frisinger and Jessica Morris that was recently published by The Experiment on 1 December 2015.

This book is written by a group of taco scientists - Wes, Stephanie, Molly and Jessica who live in Tacotopia - Austin, Texas. They introduced the taco cleanse at the 2013 Vegan Month of Food by eating tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 30 days.

This is a very funny cookbook that compares itself to the Paleo and South Beach diets that all deprive you from eating your favourite foods. Well not this cookbook - it claims the plant based tortilla diet rewards your body with what it naturally craves - with dishes like refried beans and guacamole. In fact it goes as far as to say it's proven to change your life by eating tacos every day!

It has 75 delicious looking vegan inspired recipes to try. It even shows you how to make your own tortillas, salsas and sauces, salads, fillings, drinks and more.

I love Mexican food and cook tacos or chilli con carne about twice a month but that's about all the Mexican cuisine I've mastered - now I have a heap of Mexican inspired dishes to try. I also have Meatless Mondays where I cook a vegetarian dish once a week, so these vegan recipes will be great inspiration for my menu plan.

I recommend this book to taco food fans and anyone with a sense of humour in the kitchen. This would also make a great Christmas gift for foodies.

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 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 Taco Cleanse can be purchased from the authors here and The Experiment Publishing

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 The Experiment Publishing to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Subdivision Progress: Tree Removal, Lifting Pavers + Excavating

We've been making slow and steady progress getting our backyard cleared and ready for subdivision these last few months. 

It's hard to believe we got approval to subdivide almost a year ago now. This year has just gone so fast with our engagement and planning the wedding taking priority that although we thought we would have it finished by now and put on the market to sell, it isn't quite ready yet but we are aiming to get it finished early in the New Year.

The granny flat we had removed in September and was a massive milestone in getting the block cleared. The granny flat was taken away by the transport guys to try to sell, I'm not sure if they have sold it yet but I hope it goes to someone to turn into their home!

In October we had the large ghost gum tree removed from the backyard by tree loppers. 

There were 4 guys working on removing it and it took them about 5 hours to cut down from the top branches all the way down the tree trunk. They had their trucks and heavy duty equipment onsite and turned it all into mulch and took it away.

The stump was left in so that the bobcat guys can remove it roots and all. Tree removal is expensive we paid almost $2,000 for it to be removed.


We also wanted to save our patio pavers that we didn't need anymore but didn't want them to end up in the skip bin so we gave them to a friend who plans to extend her patio area.

So one hot and sunny Sunday, four of us moved 400 pavers .... lifted them up from our old patio area, stacked them in the ute, drove them to our friends house, unloaded them and stacked them again. It took 4 trips to get them all moved as we could only fit about 100 pavers in the ute at a time.

It was exhausting work on a hot summer day but the drinks afterwards tasted even better when you know you've earnt it!

Over the last three Saturdays we had a mini excavator and driver in to clear the rest of the backyard - take out the concrete supports from the granny flat, knock out the brick garden beds, concrete retaining wall around the patio area, and remove all the old building rubble and materials.

The excavator put everything into piles and then a bobcat came in and scooped everything up and dumped it straight into his truck. When the truck was full, the bobcat driver took the truck and dropped off the load and then came back to fill it up again.

If the backyard wasn't a dusty sandpit before it sure is now!

When there's machinery digging around you need to be careful of your services so you don't disturb pipes. We had drawings of where our plumbing pipes were meant to be in the backyard but they were wrong as we found out when the excavator accidentally pulled up our sewer pipe ... now I know where the term shit happens comes from!

A cracked pipe, a call to our plumber, and a quick trip to the hardware store for supplies and Mr P fixed it using a new pipe and repair couplings which have rubber rings and hinges to clamp around the new pipe which makes it much stronger and secure for underground plumbing.

Problem solved in about an hour and we could safely flush the toilet again!

Mr P got busy separating all the timber and plastic from the brick and building rubble so that the truck could take it to the rubbish tip - they will only accept brick and building rubble there. If there's timber and plastic in there as well they process as a different type of rubbish which is more expensive.

It worked out cheaper for us to get a bobcat in to load it into a truck, which did a few trips to the yard to dump the rubble.

Our local council supplies us with a few skip bins a year so we loaded all the timber and plastic into the skip bin for it to be removed at no cost - winning!

The backyard has been cleared and the next job is to remove the large underground concrete tanks (the old septic tanks which were decommissioned but not removed from the ground).

We also need to have a plumber in to move our drainage pipes.

Then we will get the surveyor in to peg out the back block and advise us on what level the land needs to be so we know how much retaining we'll need - retaining walls and fences can then be installed.

Then we can design our deck - I can't wait for the deck to be built it's been a dream for so many years now!

We are getting there slowly but surely!

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