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Friday, January 29, 2016

Honeymoon Travels: Louisville, Kentucky USA

Today I'm sharing part two of our honeymoon travels around the USA ....

After leaving New York we had to catch two planes to get from New York to Charlotte and then onto Louisville, Kentucky where we stayed for three nights.

Kentucky is known as bourban country and that's exactly what Mr P had on his must see places for the USA which was our main reason for going to Louisville. It turned out that this was the most relaxing part of our holiday as the town we stayed in had a real country feel to it, the people were so down to earth and friendly and the bourbon we drank and southern food we ate was amazing!

I love that we stayed in all sorts of accommodation on our travels - from a city apartment to a ritzy hotel it was both exciting and nerve racking every time we checked in as to what we would find!

We opted for budget accommodation here and stayed at Choice Hotels - Econo Lodge which was clean, the room was massive, it was the only place we stayed at which included daily breakfast and the best part was it was walking distance to town so easy for us to go out for dinner and drinks and it wasn't far from where the bourbon tour left from. 

Day 1 - Bourbon Country

We did a full day bourbon trail tour with Mint Julep Tours in a big motor coach they drove us around the beautiful countryside and stopped at two distilleries: Makers Mark and Jim Beam. It was a really great day and we had plenty of time at each place, sometimes you feel rushed and on a time limit on tours, but we didn't feel that at all on this one.

Our first stop was at Makers Mark in Loretto, Kentucky where we spent a few hours and our group had a personal tour around the entire distillery and saw how the bourbon was made, stored in barrels, bottled, labelled and of course we got to sample the bourbon as well .... this first stop and tasting was at 10.30am in the morning - now that's the breakfast of champions!

The properties these distilleries are on are so stunning, lush green lawns and well kept buildings. 

It's such a pretty place to visit, like something right out of a picture perfect postcard!

After a lunch stop at the quaint Kurtz Restaurant where I had my first taste of lemon meringue pie which was homemade by a family of three generations who have run the restaurant for over 75 years!

We went onto our next stop Jim Beam which is located on another stunning property in Clermont Kentucky. 

Crazy fact .... 90% of the worlds bourbon is made in Kentucky and 50% of that is made at Jim Beam, which is why this place is so massive!  

We spent a couple of hours at the Jim Beam distillery walking around the American Stillhouse and seeing the bourbon production from start to finish and of course having a tasting at the end was the best part!

I never knew there were so many different types and flavours of Jim Beam .... my favourite was honey and apple flavour.

Day 2 - City Sights and Eats

We did a half day food and city tour around Louisville with City Taste Tours run by two lovely and lively women in their entertaining van with fairy lights and entertainment onboard. 

Along the way we were fed all sorts of Kentucky treats ..... chocolate truffles, benedictine sandwich, Kentucky hot brown, Derby pie, hush puppies, fried green tomatoes and more! We also tasted so many different types of bourbon, whisky, wine, port, sangria, mint julep and beer.

We visited the Sluggers Museum where the wooden baseball bats are made and Mr P had a few hits of the ball. We also bought home some baseball bats for the man cave. 

We toured around the neighborhoods, watched the horses race at Churchill Downs, discovered the old part of town, St James Court and the Cast Iron district.

We loved the southern food .... We went to Doc Crows a popular BBQ smoke house and feasted on ribs, steak and mac and cheese which is so popular as a side dish in the USA but not often found on the menu at home.

We also had the best pulled pork and angus beef burgers at Down One Bourbon Bar - I highly recommend this place not just for the range of bourbons but the food was amazing!

We loved this part of bourbon country and this was a really relaxing and memorable stop on our honeymoon travels.

Have you been to Kentucky? What did you love about it?

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Subdivision Progress: Removing Underground Concrete Tanks And Clearing The Backyard

One of the subdivision requirements we have to do as part of excavating the backyard is remove two large underground concrete tanks - these are the old septic tanks which were decommissioned years ago when the house was put onto new septic (years before we bought the house). The tanks were no longer used but had been left in the ground (which is what they often do) and just filled in with sand and rubble.

But because we want to subdivide the block and someone will want to build a house on it we had to dig up and remove the tanks completely. This is to make the land safe without the concern that the tanks could cave in and cause damage to any buildings on top of them - the old paved patio area pictured below sat on top of the concrete tanks and use to get wobbly pavers as the tanks slowly shifted over time. So just imagine if there was a house on top of them, it wouldn't be very safe!



The problem is that it is a massive job - the tanks are heavy and made from solid concrete and need big machinery to dig them out of the ground and take them away.

We had a driver and mini excavator in to start digging them up and he discovered another tank we didn't know was there - it was made from bricks instead of concrete so a lot easier to remove as the bricks just fell in and we could dig them out. 

The concrete tanks are so solid - the driver lifted off the lid and cracked open the bottom of the tank and tried for a few hours without success to pull them out but his excavator wasn't big enough to do the job.

So we called it a day and made plans for a bigger excavator to come back and finish the job.

A few weeks later, after the Christmas break, the big excavator came and lifted out the concrete tanks, put them in a truck to be taken away, and both the excavator and a bobcat guy cleared the whole backyard.

Unfortunately I don't have any progress shots as I wasn't home at the time, sorry!

We also had a plumber come and redo the underground pipes and all the services for the new block are now done - plumbing, electricity and water services.

Our next task is to get the block surveyed again and have them measure and peg out the two areas - the back block of land and the front block (which will determine what will become the new size of our backyard).

Once the pegs are in place we will get quotes to have retaining walls and new fences installed. It is really going to take shape then as once the fences are in we can build a deck and landscape our new (and much smaller!) backyard and the subdivided land will be just about ready to put on the market to sell.

What a relief to have the tanks removed and the whole block cleared .... it's amazing how big it looks now that the patio, granny flat and big tree is gone.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Review: Alternative Movie Posters 11: More Film Art From The Underground By Matthew Chojnacki

This is a book review of Alternative Movie Posters 11: More Film Art from the Underground By Matthew Chojnacki that was published by Schiffer Publishing on 25 November 2015.

Matthew Chojnaki is an award winning freelance writer and film/music historian. Matthew lives in Cleveland, Ohio. This is his third book.

This is the second volume of Alternative Movie Posters to be released and I think you could just keep on making more volumes there are so many movies which could be printed in a book like this.

In this book there are over 200 movie posters created by over 100 artists.

Each page contains an alternative movie poster for well known movies from classics to new releases such as Ghostbusters, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, The Black Lagoon, The Matrix, Aliens, The Incredibles, and lots more.

There is behind the scenes information on the movies and actors on the bottom of each poster.

Some of the artists are new and emerging talents and others are returning favourites and more well known.

The art work is all a similar style of colour illustrations, they are interesting to look at and I think they've made their point about bringing old fashioned design back to movie posters.

This is a large book with the posters bigger than A4 pages - they would look fantastic framed and turned into wall art for a theatre room, games rooms, or even the man cave!

I really love this book, it's a keepsake, that most ages can relate to as you will have seen or heard of the movies in the book.

Seeing the movie posters created in a different way is really interesting and this is a fun, entertaining and unique book to have on your bookshelf.

I recommend this book to movie fans with an artistic eye - it can be used for home decorating or as a coffee table book.

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

Alternative Movie Posters 11 can be purchased from the author here and Schiffer 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 Schiffer Publishing to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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[Images via Schiffer Publishing

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Friday, January 22, 2016

2016 Reading Challenge - 1/12 A Book Published This Year

I've set myself two reading challenges this year .....

The first is to beat last year's total of 35 books read to read 40 books this year

The second is to finish the 2016 Reading Challenge created by Modern Mrs. Darcy

1/12 - A book published this year

I downloaded this ebook from Netgalley The Grass Is Greener by Loretta Hill which was published by Random House Australia on 4 January 2016.

This was a perfect Summer holiday read and I recommend it to chick lit and rural romance fans and I give it 4/5 stars. You can read my full book review here.

Who else is up for a reading challenge this year?

It's such a great way to encourage and inspire you to pick up a different book genre, something you would never normally read, and give it a red hot go!

You can find Modern Mrs. Darcy's list of books for the challenge here.

I haven't pre-planned my reading list, I prefer to just wait and see what comes up over the year - between what my Book Club picks and what I find on Netgalley that I'd like to read and review

I'm sure I'll find the reading list a challenge ..... so let's do this!

What's on your reading list this year?

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[1st image via Modern Mrs. Darcy and 2nd image via Random House Australia]

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Courtyard Garden: Setting Up Automatic Reticulation And Sprinkler System

The courtyard garden design has been a thorn in my side for months ..... ok that's a lie more like YEARS!

The reason is that once the limestone walls were built and the fence slats installed we had this big lovely outdoor space that we want to look amazing - on a budget - and to incorporate all our awesome ideas - but we didn't know where to start!

So after many inspirational posts, ideas, and sketches (and laughing at my not to scale although pretty and colourful drawings!) and the deliberation over many, many bottles of wine - Mr P and I have finalised our courtyard garden design and can now get to work on it.

The design plan is -
Two large rectangles of lawn
Paving all around the outside
Large paved area for seating 
Shade sails over the seating area
Succulent garden bed around the bedroom
Vegetable and herb garden beds to the side
Screen for the bins and reticulation controls

I will share a proper design plan for our courtyard garden in a separate blog post soon 

Now to physically map out the design we measured and marked off the lawn and garden bed areas using flagging tape attached to sticks in the ground. 

We know what size pavers we want 40x40 so used this as a guide to have the paved paths 3 pavers wide around the outside and the lawn and garden beds would work in with this. It was important for the lawn areas to line up so they look symmetrical even though they will be different sizes due to the shape of the courtyard.

Once we knew where the lawn and garden borders would be we could lay the reticulation. I am no good at remembering to hand water so reticulation is a must for this garden to survive!

I never know what to call it irrigation or reticulation and my understanding is that reticulation is automated irrigation and so that's what we're having reticulation (or retic for short because we're Aussie and we shorten everything!).

The type of reticulation we are installing includes:
1. Laying below ground pipe
2. Pop up sprinklers
3. Electronically operated solenoid valves
4. An automatic timer and controller

To start, Mr P got busy with a trenching shovel and dug trenches along the grass and garden bed border for the pvc pipe to go.

It is a good idea to use a string line when doing this so you dig the trench in a straight line.

We drew a mud map of where each garden zone is so we knew how to set up each station.

We fitted a main solenoid and 3 other solenoids which will control the different watering stations and zones in the garden - ie: lawn, succulent garden, vegetable garden.

These solenoids will all be connected to a control box to operate each zone. We also placed a cover over each solenoid to protect the wires once it is covered in dirt.

Once the first transformer was in, it was just a matter of building a jigsaw with pipes and elbows to run the reticulation through our maze of trenches and attach sprinklers at the ends.

The lengths of pipe needed to be cut to fit each trench. The pipe is pvc (plastic) so easy to cut through with a hand saw and glue together.

The glue we used is a solvent cement (you use green glue for water pressure and blue glue for normal water pipes).

How do I know this? Because I'm a glue girl from way back!

I use to help my Dad on the farm fix water pipes and sprinklers down the paddock and the smell of this glue still reminds me of my childhood!

You need to work quickly with the glue and apply it to both the outside of the pipe and inside of the fitting and apply pressure to ensure the pipe and fitting adheres - otherwise it will push itself apart and not be water tight. This is not just a glue it actually dissolves the plastic which causes the pipe and fitting to bond together.

At each corner of the grassed areas we installed a pop up sprinkler.

We fitted quarter nozzles to the sprinkler heads so they will only water the lawn that needs it and not the paving.

With water restrictions across Australia anything you can do to reduce water usage is necessary and something as simple as the type of nozzles and the outlay of water will make a huge difference to saving water.

Once the pipe and sprinklers were in and the glue had dried we wired up the solenoids to the control box and fitted the control box to the exterior brick wall of the house.

We picked the Orbit Control Star Controller as we got it at a great price.

We will need an electrician to install power outside so we can plug in the control box but we won't do that until we decide where we want the rest of the outside power and lights to go. So, in the meantime to test it we just used an extension cord and it all works fine.

We turned the control box on and the water supply to check that all the sprinklers worked ok and there were no water leaks.

Then we had to make sure all the sprinkler heads were at the same height - we did this by using a string line and mini level and a tape measure to check the height.

After some slight adjustments, all the sprinklers were level and so we filled in all the trenches with sand to cover over the pipes.

It cost us about $300 all up for the pipe, fittings, sprinklers, glue and control box.

Plus Mr P and I put in a couple of hours labour over a few weekends digging and installing it ourselves. 

It is money and time well spent to make sure our garden and grass is watered regularly so it grows and the black thumb of the house doesn't kill it (that would be me incase you're wondering!)

Now that the reticulation is in our next task is to organise shade sails and make a screen for the rubbish bins as both will need the support poles cemented into the ground before any paving can be done.

Once the poles are in we will get quotes for the paving to be laid and source pavers - we already know what size and colour we want (40x40 in limestone) it's just a matter of finding out where they are stocked at the best price!

Then lawn and garden beds will be planted after the paving is in and of course the fun part of decorating with outdoor furniture etc.

I am so excited that we've finally started work on the courtyard garden!

How does your garden get watered ..... By hand? Or an automatic system?

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[All images my own]

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