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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Recipe: Chicken + Vegetable Laksa

I made this Chicken and Vegetable Laksa for dinner the other night and it was a winner - it was quick and easy and delicious so it's been added to my menu plan rotation as a tasty mid week dinner. 

With the added vegetables it's a hearty and filling meal in one and you can always add more spice and chilli if you want to warm up your belly on a cold night in!

Chicken + Vegetable Laksa
Serves 4

Peanut oil
Half a bbq chicken, shredded
2-3 tbs of laksa paste (or more if you like it hot!)
Red onion, sliced
2 cups of chicken stock
1 can of coconut milk
1 tbs palm sugar, grated
1 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
200g dried vermicelli rice noodles 
Cup of mixed vegetables (I used green beans and chopped cauliflower, broccoli and carrot)
2 cups of bean sprouts
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
3 spring onions, finely sliced

1. Heat oil in large saucepan. Add laksa paste and cook stirring for a few minutes until fragrant. Add onion and cook for a few minutes. Stir in stock and bring to the boil.

2. Cook noodles in boiling water, drain, rinse and keep warm.

3. Add to the stock mixture the coconut milk, chicken and vegetables. Stir in sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Reduce heat to low and stir occasionally until mixture is heated through (do not let boil) and the vegetables are cooked.

4. When ready to serve divide the cooked noodles amongst soup bowls, ladle the soup over the noodles, top with a generous amount of bean sprouts, spring onions and fresh coriander.

I can't get enough of soup during winter and it's nice to find a spicy variation to traditional soup recipes.

What's your favourite belly warming soup?

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Holiday Destination: Seminyak, Indonesia

It's always in the midst of a cold and wet winter that I start to feel the travel bug bite the most and the pull towards a warm and tropical holiday becomes too much to resist.

Thus I happened upon an awesome deal on Scoopon that was too good to be true for Seminyak, Indonesia - it included accommodation at The Jineng Villas in a private villa with our own pool, meals, transfers, massages and our own private butler (I mean c'mon!)

So I have booked Mr P and I a holiday for later this year we'll be heading to Bali, Indonesia to stay at this place in Seminyak for a week to chill, relax and unwind.

Doesn't it look amazing!

Indonesia is a 4 hour flight from Perth which makes it a very popular holiday spot for us Aussies. I didn't realise that Indonesia is so spread out - it's made up of over 18,000 islands! Bali is the most popular one for holiday makers.

I've been to Bali about 13 years ago and spent a week in Kuta the party town of Bali but this is Mr P's first time so for this holiday we are looking for someplace more relaxing and romantic. Seminyak is known to be the place for honeymooners and so its a perfect choice for us love birds to stay for our first year wedding anniversary!

Have you been to Seminyak? 

I'd love some recommendations on what to see, things to do and places to eat!

If you want to check out my previous travels visit my Travel Page HERE

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

DIY: Painting The Eaves Around The House

I am happy to report that Mr P and I did our last lot of exterior painting of the Jarrah Jungle home the other weekend and finished painting the eaves around the front of the house.

We have painted every part of our exterior from the rendered brick front and back and sides of the house and the window frames (we painted these twice ... the first time white and then a few years later a charcoal colour).

The old fibro asbestos eaves we had removed and replaced with fibre cement sheets when we did our garage extension about 4 years ago. We painted the back and side eaves when we painted the back of the house but we hadn't gotten around to painting the front eaves ... until now!

To finish off the eaves Mr P had some scotia that he cut to size on an angle using the power saw and then secured to the eaves with a nail gun. The scotia fills the gap between the brickwork and ceiling and makes it look neat and tidy.

Any nails that were sticking out Mr P hammered in so they are smooth and then used a putty to go over the nails so you couldn't see the nail heads.

The eaves and scotia were then ready for painting.

To prep the eaves to paint we used a broom to clean off the cobwebs, bugs and dirt and then used a dry rag to give them a good wipe over to make sure they were clean.

We laid drop sheets down and only used painters tape for the garage door area and the rest of the eaves Mr P painted free hand with a patient hand, an angled brush and a wet rag to wipe up any drips and slips as he went.

Now for the type of paint we used Spring Flat Plastic Paint in white - it is a really inexpensive paint (we picked up 4 ltrs from Bunnings for under $15). The odour is a little strong but as we were painting outside it didn't really bother us. It is a plastic type paint so it will take forever to mix properly by hand so I suggest you use a paint mixer like the one I'm using below - simply attach  the mixer to a drill and use the drill to mix it and it's ready in just a few minutes. 

That's it once the prep work was done we were ready to paint .... Mr P as always was the cutting in master and I'm the roller girl waiting for my turn to follow with a roller. I am very grateful to whomever invented the painting stick or I'd never be able to reach the ceiling!

We painted on one coat and then waited a few weekends (due to the wet weather) until we could get out there and do the second coat of paint.


What a difference a nice fresh coat of white paint makes. 

But wait that's just the first coat you always need to do two coats to get a nice even coverage. But the good news is the second coat always goes on much quicker and easier.

It's almost a bittersweet feeling knowing that we have almost finished our Jarrah Jungle renovations ... how will we spend our weekends when we don't have things to paint!

Have you done any painting around the house lately?

I have added our painting projects big and small to my Projects Page which you can find here

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Cook Book Review + Preview: Clean Soups By Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson

This is a book review and sneak preview of Clean Soups: Simple Nourishing Recipes For Health And Vitality by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson that  is due to be published by Ten Speed Press on 6 September 2016.

Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson have paired together and written many healthy cook books and Clean Soups is their latest. Rebecca is the senior chef in residence and nutritional educator at one of America's leading cancer wellness centers. Mat Edelson is an award winning medical, science and sports journalist.

The author Rebecca use to cook for seriously ill people and came to realise how energising a delicious and healthy bowl of soup can be. The healing qualities of a bowl of soup have been known for many years and I know myself when I'm feeling under the weather I'll make a big pot of soup with lots of fresh and healthy ingredients in the hope to feel better.

In this beautiful cook book are 60 recipes for soups to cleanse, renew and restore the body. The recipes are easy to follow and understand with a mix of simple and more complex recipes as well as a full blown two day soup cleanse (the weekend jump-start cleanse). There's a soup tool kit on the basics of soup making at the beginning which is useful and then the book is split into sections for broths, blended soups, traditional healing soups and finally soup toppers.

There are some interesting soup combinations and delicious sounding soups that I can't wait to make: Thai coconut broth, Avocado Citrus Soup, Ruby Red Beet Soup, Hot and Sour Shiitake Mushroom Soup, Summer zucchini soup with basil; and my all time favourite Mulligatawny.

What I really liked about this cook book is that there are images of each recipe (always a necessity for cook books in my opinion!) and lots of beautiful images throughout which make you want to get in the kitchen and get your soup on!

I recommend this book to soup lovers and anyone looking for healthy and healing soup recipes.

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

Clean Soups can be purchased from the author here or Ten Speed Press - Penguin Random House

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 Ten Speed Press to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Next Project Plan: Building A Deck

When we first moved into our beloved Jarrah Jungle we had a vision of building a deck and patio area off the back of the house that you could access via the kitchen and dining area so it will be like an extension of the house and give us more room when entertaining.

In preparation for the deck and as part of our kitchen renovation we knocked out a window and turned it into a doorway and installed french doors leading off the dining area.

These lovely doors have stayed locked and out of use for over 2 years as we await the next project of building the deck. Sadly up until now the doors lead to nowhere but a steep drop meters below so they are not used at all. But that is soon about to change!

The reason the deck is the last project we are tackling is because we had to wait for the subdivision of the backyard and the new boundary lines to be pegged out and retaining walls and fences to be installed because the deck will be built within the new fence boundary.

Our Local Council requires plans be submitted for the retaining wall, fence, deck and patio for building approval. We are no strangers to getting building permits through Council as we had to go through the same process when we built our garage extension and then again when we built our front limestone courtyard.

We are using a local company Germano Designs who were recommended to us and we have arranged an onsite meeting with them to go over our design ideas so they can draw up the plans and have them certified ready to submit to Council.

Isn't this the most perfect space for a deck to be built!

If there's one thing I've realised when it comes to renovating it's the planning stage that takes the longest time but as soon you know what you want and have all the boxes ticked to do it - the work itself doesn't take that long at all.

I have a feeling in just a few months, perfectly timed for the cold winter season to be over and when the warmer outside weather is here, that I may be sitting back on my shiny new deck enjoy a glass of wine and admiring our long term dreams becoming a reality!

It's funny the deck was one of the first projects we wanted to tackle with our renovations and 7 years on it is the very last project we are doing!

What are your long term home renovating dreams and goals?

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Step By Step On How To Make A Rain Chain

Something that isn't often used in Australian homes but is a great idea is a Rain Chain. 

It's an alternative to a down pipe and is basically a chain that hangs down the gutter to direct rain so that the gutters don't fill up and overflow with rain water.

We installed all new gutters, facias and down pipes when we did our roof restoration but the problem we have at the front of the house is because of the large windows there isn't room for a down pipe - so instead we had to drill a hole in our lovely new gutter to let the rain come out.

But then when it rained water poured from the hole down to the ground meters below and it was so loud .... It sounded like a herd of elephants going to the toilet in front of my bedroom window - not quite the ambiance I want to hear from my bedroom sanctuary! 

So to ease the water down the hole in a more delicate fashion we made a Rain Chain so the water follows the chains down like a waterfall into a feature pot which is connected to our drains. It's not only quiet as a mouse but practical too and it's made a really nice feature in the garden.

I'll take you through the steps of how we made a Rain Chain ......

Prepping The Chain

For the chain I wanted to use a shiny metal chain but it was going to be too heavy and put too much weight on the gutters possibly causing them to bend or damage them. 

So instead we used plastic chain which was nice and light but it looked a bit cheap and nasty so this was fixed with some spray paint - first I painted the chain with some Dulux plastic primer spray paint I had leftover (it is so important to use primer to help the paint stick, especially when it's something for outside as it needs to hold up to the elements). Then I added a few top coats of colour in a galvanised spray paint in bright silver.

Making Adjustments + Adding Extra Chains

Fast forward a year of using the Rain Chain and we found the chain sitting in the hole on it's own didn't work very well in heavy rain as the rain couldn't follow the chain properly. So we decided we needed to add a few extra chains.

We also fitted a 50mm round pop to go in the gutter and then attached a 50mm pvc socket to it and glued it using silicone - this way the chain sits inside the socket and it's much better at keeping it in place. I spray painted the PVC socket with the plastic primer and then in Colorbond Ironstone (which is the colour of our gutter) so it blends in with the gutter. The round pop was metal and you can't see it as it sits inside the gutter so that didn't need painting.

We also decided to hang some extra chains and got some more plastic chain and as above, I spray painted it with a plastic primer followed by a galvanised spray paint in bright silver.

You can see how the orange plastic chain looks before paint and next to it after being painted with silver - it looks like metal right!

Hanging The Chains

We hung one length of chain to a dowel inside the hole in the pop in the gutter.

Then used pliers to open a link on the other chains and clip them to the center chain.

To hold all the chains together we secured them with a plastic zip tie at the bottom and then covered the ends with stones in the bottom of the pot so that it will stay in place.

Drainage for the Rain Chain

You can just let the Rain Chain overflow and the water drain off where ever it's positioned but because it's so close to the house foundations we don't want the water to run back towards the house so we went that one step further and connected drainage to the Rain Chain for it to drain directly into the soak wells. 

It was easy enough for us to do this because we were putting in the soak wells and drains anyway in our new courtyard so it was just another pipe to run from the Rain Chain and connect it to the drains going into the soak well. 

To be extra cautious and to stop any water leaking around or under the house we also waterproofed the limestone retaining walls of the house to protect it. We painted on 2 coats of waterproof paint (the same one we used to seal the courtyard garden beds) and left it to dry for a few days before filling it in with sand.

We also removed the old garden tap that was there and covered the hole in with cement. The plumber disconnected the pipe but hadn't removed the tap fitting so this was easy enough for us to do.

Feature Pot for the Rain Chain

Once the pipes and plumbing were done we were ready to secure the Rain Chain to a large feature pot so the chain doesn't move around in the wind and rain and it will be the feature of our Rain Chain garden.

I went on a shopping expedition for the perfect pot that had a wide opening to catch all the water sprays off the chain and also a solid flat base so that it would be stable on the ground and not topple over. Once we had the right pot, we drilled a hole in the bottom of the pot and fitted a plastic drain to attach to the pipe.

Now the pot had drainage it was ready for the Rain Chain garden.

We leveled the ground and laid some old pavers around the pipe for the pot to sit on to give it a solid firm base.

We cut the pipe so that it would sit inside the drain in the pot nice and neatly.

Once the pot was sitting perfectly flat and level on the pavers and over the pipe, we half filled the pot with stones.

We used stones as they'll allow the pot to drain when the water goes in whereas if we filled it with sand or soil it wouldn't drain.

Now the pot is secured in place and the extra chains are much better for the rain to follow the chains down into the pot and create a water feature while saving our gutters from overflowing!

Landscaping the Rain Chain garden bed is next on our courtyard project list - we're going to fill the bed with pebbles, pots and hardy plants like succulents or natives. I'll come back and add some after photos once it's looking all nice and pretty!

It cost about $150 to make the Rain Chain feature, below is the breakdown:

$15  plastic chain
$10  spray paint
$0    pavers (we already had)
$30  pop, PVC socket, dowel, drain and pipe
$70  feature pot
$25  gravel

So ..... what do you think of our Rain Chain feature? 

Sharing with link parties:
Curly Crafty Mom - The Creative Corner
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
The Plumbette - Home Improvement Thursday

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[All images my own]

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