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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Recipe: Pina Colada Bread In A Bread Maker

If you like pina coladas .... dancing in rain .... then you'll love this pina colada bread recipe!

I've made this pina colada bread a few times now and since it won the Naughty Vs Nice Christmas baking competition at work last year (in the naughty category of course!) I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

Pina Colada Bread
750g loaf in bread maker

225ml Water
2 tbs Rum (I used Bacardi Rum)
1 tbs Margarine
2/3 cup Pineapple, crushed and drained
1 and 1/2 tsp Salt
2 tbs Sugar
1 tbs Skim milk powder
1 tsp Bread improver
480g Plain flour
2 tsp Yeast
1/2 cup Coconut, shredded and roasted

Place all the ingredients in the bread maker in the order listed above.

Turn the bread maker on and leave it to work it's magic. 

When finished the bread will come out golden and smelling deliciously of sweet pineapple and coconut.

Turn the bread out and leave it to cool.

It's now ready to slice and serve with a soft cheese such as walnut and apricot cheese.

This sweet loaf is perfect for a crowd as it goes a long way and it's a perfect accompaniment to a bevvie  of your choice ..... or double it up with a pina colada cocktail!

Do you have a favourite bread recipe?

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: The Maxwell Sisters By Loretta Hill

This is a book review of The Maxwell Sisters by Loretta Hill which was recently published on 3 January 2015.

Loretta Hill is a well known author from Perth, Western Australian my very home town! Loretta is one of my favourite authors since reading The Girl In The Yellow Vest and now this book, I'm hooked she's just brilliant. Loretta in her spare time enjoys reading, good food, great wine, and travel, a woman after my own heart!

The Maxwell family have a winery in Margaret River, a beautiful wine growing region of Western Australia. The 3 Maxwell sisters grow up and move out of their family home and each is focused on their own lives, careers, family, and love interests and it's only when one of the sisters is planning a wedding on their family's estate, that they all return home to help with the wedding preparation.

Whilst this is a romance story, it's not the fairy dust romantic kind, but the real life dramas, ups and downs, and serious issues that each of the sisters are dealing with in their own lives. The story includes their parents who are growing older and also have their own change of life they are going through.

The writing is upbeat and witty and with the various love interests and dramas happening all the way through the story it was engaging and a really easy book to read.

I loved the references to wineries and places of interest in and around Margaret River, being a regular visitor there myself I could picture the bakery in Dunsborough and the wineries in the region. I also loved the talk of working on the winery, the variety of grapes grown, and how they are harvested,  I think this added an authentic element to the story and I'm sure the author enjoyed researching the wineries (and wine!) for this book.

I recommend this book to wine lovers who like a bit of light hearted romance.

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 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 pass up the last tim tam for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

The Maxwell Sisters can be purchased from Random House Australia 

Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley 

You can find the author's website here

Disclosure:  NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote authors and their books 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, January 23, 2015

My Word For The Year 2015: Love

I have been playing along with the 'word of the year' on Maxabella Loves for a few years now and I just love the concept behind focusing on one element and one word to aspire to for the next 365 days.

My previous words for the year are: 2012 Decision, 2013 Embrace and 2014 Motivate

For 2015 the word that popped into my head instantly was LOVE

Getting engaged on our cruise holiday just 2 months ago certainly brought that word to the forefront of my mind. Saying YES to Mr P to spend the rest of our lives together and choosing to be in love forever and ever which is a very long time you know!

It would be so nice to stay in that love bubble of excitement straight after the engagement but soon enough it was time to get down to business and start planning our big day and our friends and family were asking us questions we didn't have the answers too ..... When's the wedding? Whose in the bridal party? Garden or Church? Band or DJ? Just elope to Las Vegas!

With so many things to plan and think about I can see that love bubble get pushed to the back as the business side of things come to the front but I'm determined to not let that happen.

This year is going to be all about the LOVE

I'm not going to sugar coat it, planning our lovefest is going to be hard work, stressful and daunting especially for me as I'm feeling the pressure already to have everything absolutely amazing, magazine quality, perfection.

I know I bring that on myself because I love party planning and this is by far the biggest party of my life so the pressure is on to make it just that!

BUT I am reminding myself it's about the LOVE

I want to make decisions this year based on how I feel inside, and how it represents Mr P and I. I don't care for fancy limousines, or a designer wedding dress, I just want to share in special moments and memories with Mr P by my side and surrounded by family and friends.

The reality is we don't have a lotto winning budget and even if we did I don't want to spend it on "one day". A wedding doesn't have to be expensive to be memorable.

The Do-It-Yourself in me thinks that I can tackle a lot of the wedding plans myself and I will for the most part but there's a fine line I don't want to cross and DIY myself silly and forget I was meant to be having fun along the way.

All you need is LOVE

So every time I'm on my Pinterest pinning like a crazy love struck engaged bride to be to bring all the ideas and inspiration together that I love, I have to remind myself that I can't do it all and that the most important thing to focus on this year through the engagement and wedding and our honeymoon and then our life together is ....

Mr P and I and our LOVE for each other

So bring on the lovefest I say! I'm so happy and excited for what lies ahead this year and it's not just about Mr P and I, but it's also bringing both our friends and families together too, which is really special.

My goodness I don't think I've ever written anything so mushy before, I'm all warm and fuzzy inside now, but think I'd better go and hang some wallpaper or paint something!

I'm exciting for my word for the year ..... Bring on the LOVE!

What's your word for 2015?

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Painting The Exterior Walls And Window Frames With Dulux Paint

You have seen our before and after on having the exterior of the house rendered recently and while we have hired a scaffold for the project, we decided to paint the exterior of the house as well while the scaffold was up, much easier and safer than balancing on ladders and crates!

I have been lucky enough to work with Dulux to review their paints recently and for this project they provided their exterior paints Dulux 1 step Acrylic Primer, Sealer and Undercoat and Dulux Weathershield Low Sheen Acrylic - both of which we had tinted to Colorbond, Classic Cream.

We also used the Dulux Aquanamel Gloss tinted in Colorbond, Monument which we had leftover from when we painted the window frames at the front of the house

Ok so let's get painting, this is the order that we painted the exterior ....... 
Working a few hours here and there over the Christmas break on our holiday at home

First of all, the scotia which we removed for the renderer to render all the way to the top of the eaves, had to be re-fitted. The scotia is the wooden moulding that attaches to the eaves to give it a nice neat edge. 

To save time we bought a cheap nail gun for about $40 and used it to nail the scotia in all around the house. We went through hundreds of nails so well worth the money, can you imagine doing that by hand? No thanks!

My job was to hold the scotia in place while Mr P came around and nailed it in, being a shortie I used a broom to hold it up high above my head which worked a treat. I wasn't a fan of standing close to the gun and flinched every time it went off but lucky for me (and lucky for him!) Mr P is a good shot and didn't miss!

Once the scotia was nailed in and we had filled all the nail holes with filler, we were ready to paint them and the eaves which are a concrete colour. We used a standard Ceiling White paint and painted 2 coats onto the scotia and eaves. The white paint instantly lifts the exterior, while we were tempted to use the classic cream paint I'm glad we went for the fresh bright white.

Mr P cut in while I followed with the roller on an extension stick, I tell you this was really hard going having my neck back and arms up walking backwards on the scaffold for hours. I felt very much the DIY Queen doing this paint job and was very proud of myself when we finished!

Once the scotia and eaves were painted we moved onto the window frames. The window and doors frames use to be painted white all around the house but we made the bold move to paint them in Colorbond Monument and have not looked back since, the colour looks great.

We had to prep the frames by sanding back all the old flaking paint down to the jarrah wood, filling any cracks with filler, and sanding the surface smooth. We borrowed a heat gun which helped to remove the paint but there's nothing like a bit of elbow grease to get it all off!

Once the frames were ready we did a prepcoat in Dulux 1 step Acrylic Primer, Sealer and Undercoat tinted in Colorbond, Classic Cream. As this is the same colour that we'll paint the walls it means we didn't have to be too careful cutting in, so the prepcoat didn't take too long to paint on.

A great tip if you are undercoating is to have the paint tinted in the same colour as your wall paint.

Once the prepcoat had dried Mr P did 2 top coats on the window frames in Dulux Aquanamel Gloss tinted in Colorbond, Monument. This is the same paint we used to do the window frames at the front of the house and ties in nicely with our exterior colour combination.

Using an angled brush on the window frames to cut in makes painting a lot easier, it is worth investing in a few different sizes and shapes of brushes for the different painting projects you do.

There are 6 window frames and a door frame to paint which Mr P smashed out in about 10 hours, what a champion with the paint brush he is!

Painting in hot weather is never recommended, but as we were paying for the weekly hire of the scaffold we had to push on and get the work done so we could return it. So we were up painting at the crack of dawn in the heat and even on the shady side of the house the paint was drying out too fast and crusting over which was leaving lumps on the walls.

There are some things you can do to beat the heat - firstly, we hosed down the walls with water to cool them down and stop the paint drying so fast and this definitely helped.

Secondly, we thinned the paint down - we tried using water but found that wasn't working too well so we went and bought some proper paint thinner.

We picked up a few cans of the Dulux Hot Weather Thinner which worked brilliantly by slowing down the paint from drying too fast. The thinned out paint is also easier to apply to the walls and makes the paint go further too.

Anytime we paint with exterior paint from now on we will use a paint thinner, it was a bit of a life saver really because it allowed us to get on with painting even on a 38 degree day! We used a 1 litre can of thinner to 10 litres of paint, poured it straight into the paint can and gave it a really good mix and then it was good to go.

Once the window and door frames were painted we moved onto the walls and for this we used the same prepcoat as we used on the window and door frames Dulux 1 step Acrylic Primer, Sealer and Undercoat tinted to our wall colour Colorbond, Classic Cream.

Once again Mr P was the cutter-iner and I was the roller girl. I tell you painting the outside is a lot different to inside - the walls are not flat and smooth like inside the house and the concrete walls are porous which means it takes twice as long and you use a lot more paint too. 

Once the prepcoat was on the walls we could apply the top coat which was Dulux Weathershield Low Sheen Acrylic tinted with Colorbond, Classic Cream. The first top coat went on a lot easier and the second even easier again thanks to the prepcoat. 

Mr P cut in all around the edges while I came along with the roller. Our lovely neighbor who is a retired painter and could no doubt hear my squeals every time I got too close to the edge of the scaffold, came over and helped us finish off the very last coat of paint, for which I was extremely grateful.

As the sun was fading we cleaned up the brushes and rollers, sat out on the patio with a bottle of wine and looked back at the mammoth job we had of painting the house exterior - scotia, eaves, window and door frames and rendered walls.

What a difference a fresh coat of paint makes to everything! Just a reminder of how it looked a few weeks ago ....

And how it looks now all rendered, painted, scaffold removed .... like a brand new home!

It was hard work painting the exterior especially when we were working in the heat of summer. Setting the alarm on our days off over the Christmas break to get up early to paint when everyone else was on holidays having a good time.

But look what we've achieved and saved ourselves thousands of $$$ doing it ourselves too.

Now the front and back of the house has been rendered and painted it looks so good, I'm just so happy with it ...... Never underestimate the power of paint!
Disclosure: Thanks to Dulux for providing me with this paint and painting products for review. I have not received any payment or compensation. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review And Preview: I Take You By Eliza Kennedy

This is a book review and preview of I Take You by Eliza Kennedy that is due to hit book stores on 5 May 2015.

This is Eliza's first novel and I hope it won't be her last! Eliza works in the legal field and practices litigation at a prestigious Manhattan law firm. She lives in New York with her husband and son.

This is a very entertaining story of a young couple - Lily a New York lawyer and Will an archaeologist, who have known each other only a few months and decide to get married.

Lily and Will's friends and family make them both question how well they really know each other and if they are marriage material. Lily is a wild one from a troubled childhood and divorced parents and Will is not as innocent and perfect as he appears.

This book is full of friendship, wild nights out (and in!), monogamy, court room drama, and lots and lots of sexy times! I haven't read such an entertaining book in a long time - it was upbeat, engaging, cheeky and sassy.

I recommend this book to fans of Bridget Jones and lovers of sassy women's fiction who want to have a good laugh.

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 away my last tim tam for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

I Take You can be purchased from Amazon

Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley

Disclosure: Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced readers book of this eBook published by Crown Publishing to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Laundry Renovation - How To Wallpaper A Door And Wall

After much debate on wallpapers for the laundry I finally picked out this wood wash wallpaper a few months ago after nabbing it for less than half price at Masters - if you keep an eye on the catalogue sales they do have them on promotion from time to time.

We wanted to wallpaper the wall and the door that leads from the laundry into the garage, the shoppers entry if you like.

The door was old, knocked, marked, battered and had seen better days and while replacing all the doors within the house is on the to do list, this door was going to be too expensive due to it's custom size, so we decided to wallpaper it instead. 

We cleaned the door and the wall with sugar soap and filled any bumps and dents with filler as best we could. It's important to have clean and well prepped surface before you start wallpapering as marks may show through depending on the type of wallpaper you get.

This wallpaper was textured and quite thick and hid a magnitude of sins as you will see from the before/after photo above!

We removed the door handle, light cover, etc so that it was a clear surface to work from and made it easier to cut the wallpaper around it. We need to fit a new door handle but for the moment we're using the dead bolt to lock and unlock the door oh the joys of renovating!

We measured each strip of wallpaper from the ceiling to the ground and using a level drew a straight line on the walls.

Walls are never truly square so don't rely on measurements or you'll end up with crooked wallpaper - always use a level to get a straight line.

We cut each strip of wallpaper to size allowing a bit of an overhang for cutting and set them aside until we were ready. 

We mixed up the wallpaper paste and water in a bucket and then poured it into a paint tray so we could use both a roller and a paint brush to apply the paste to the wall.

We have used both the paste the paper and paste the wall now and I think paste the wall is a lot easier  to use, mainly because with the pasting the paper it tends to get tacky and get stuck together, but then maybe that's just me!

Paste ready and wallpaper cut, we started in the top corner and worked our way across.

The beauty of this wallpaper is the pattern doesn't have to match up so you can hang it in any order which made it much easier to just cut and hang without matching patterns. You don't waste any paper this way either which is another bonus.

Leave an overlap on the top and the bottom so you can cut the paper using a sharp knife, we just used a cheap blade knife and changed the blades to make sure it was sharp and cutting well.

Mr P did such a great job cutting around the door frame I was so impressed!

It's really important to take your time when wallpapering and don't rush, smooth out any bumps and air bubbles as you work your way from the top to the bottom. Do one sheet at a time, it took us about 1 hour per sheet so about 3 hours for this project.

I really like how the wood look wallpaper ties in with the wooden bench top we made and the jarrah floorboards that run throughout the house.

My only disappointment is I meant to hang it horizontally so it was more of a paneled wall, but I forgot about this until we were onto the last sheet!

I do like how hanging it vertically makes the wall appear larger and the ceiling taller and it also follows the line of the door frame which is good.

If you're wondering how well a wallpapered door will wear, our wallpapered hallway cupboard doors which we did about 5 years ago have worn really well so it's worth considering if you have an old door you want to change and cover up. 

It cost us about $40 to wallpaper whereas replacing the whole door would have cost about $200.

This laundry renovation is really coming along now, the last thing for us to do is storage - we need to find and install shelving in the built in cupboard and then we can unpack everything in here and also in our flat pack cabinets

Now I have the wallpapering bug again ...... what can I wallpaper next!

Other than a wall, what have you wallpapered?

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