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Friday, February 12, 2016

Honeymoon Travels: New Orleans, Louisiana USA

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

After leaving Louisville, Kentucky we caught a plane to Charlotte and then another plane onto New Orleans, Louisiana where we stayed for three nights.

I had heard so much from friends about the food, party atmosphere and culture of New Orleans and was really looking forward to having some fun here!

I was unsure how the recovery from Hurricane Katrina (which was 10 years ago now) would be and it was good to see they have recovered really well with twice as many restaurants as before which means there's even more tourists going to NOLA now which is great for the economy.

We stayed in a beautiful old 1830's Inn on St. Ann just off Bourbon Street where all the action happens with bars, clubs, street drinking and buskers aplenty. 

I booked a great midweek deal on their best suite which was stunning and spacious and we had our own private balcony where we could relax and enjoy a drink while watching all the interesting characters go by! 

Day 1 - French Quarter

We walked around the French Quarter every day which has a mix of everything - from old world character and charm, beautiful old buildings and architecture, horses and carriages, to the river front with steam boats, and streets with voodoo shops and ghostly vibes. New Orleans is really something else!

Of course we couldn't go to the birthplace of jazz without seeing some live music so after dinner at an oyster house we ventured into the old jazz district where the locals go to listen to live music.

Day 2 - Culinary and History Tour

I didn't book any tours beforehand for NOLA but after having such an awesome time on the New York - Free Tours By Foot, we decided to book with them again on a Culinary History Tour of the French Quarter.  

We did this on our second day which was a great way to be taken around the town and to learn the history of the area, the different people and cultures, the cuisine and food influences that were brought here - creole, cajan, french and spanish to name a few!

We were told where the best places to eat were which was great because on our first night we didn't have the best experience as we didn't know where to eat! I highly recommend doing a local tour as soon as you can when you arrive in a new place as it really gives you a great insight of where the locals go to eat and drink.

I loved the food here especially the fried shrimp po' boy, seafood gumbo and of course the freshly made beignets dusted in icing sugar and washed down with a cafe au lait for breakfast. We also visited the French Market and tasted the famous muffuletta sandwich from Alberto's Cheese and Wine which was so good we went back the next day for another one!

Day 3 - A Cruise Down The Mississippi River

On a beautiful hot and sunny day we went on a cruise down the Mississippi River on the iconic paddle steamer boat - Natchez Steamboat.

Once onboard we found a spot in the shade outside to sit and watch the river views while enjoying a few tasty cocktails from the bar and listening to a live jazz band. 

You can't go to New Orleans without a cruise down the Mississippi River and we had the best time onboard.

New Orleans was a really different part of the USA to visit with it's culture, the people, and delicious food and I'm so glad we did, it was really something special. 

Have you been to New Orleans? What did you love about it?

Check out my other honeymoon travels around the USA here: 
Honeymoon destinations in the USA
Tours around the USA
Part 1 - New York
Part 2 - Louisville, Kentucky
Part 3 - New Orleans, Louisiana
Part 4 - Las Vegas, Nevada
Part 5 - San Francisco, California
Part 6 - Los Angeles, California

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Recipe: Salmon + Vegetable Pasta Bake

I'm sure we all have those days when we get home after a long day out and realise there is nothing in the fridge for dinner ..... so it's going to be a dinner with whatever I can find in the pantry/freezer kind of night!

This Salmon and Vegetable Pasta Bake is my go to dinner when I'm in that situation as I always have these staple ingredients in my pantry and freezer. 

Salmon and Vegetable Pasta Bake
Serves 4

300g dried pasta, penne or bowties
Brown onion, finely chopped
Celery, finely chopped
1 and 1/2 cups frozen pea, corn, carrot mix (or other frozen vegetables)
2 tbs plain flour
3 cups milk, warmed
2 tbs butter
415g can red salmon
Juice from half a lemon
2 cups tasty cheese, grated
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
Cracked pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180 fan forced and you will need a large oven proof baking dish.

2. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water, drain and set aside.

3. Melt butter in a large pot and add onion and celery, cook stirring for a few minutes until softened. 

4. Add flour and cook stirring until bubbling. Gradually add the warm milk, stirring with a whisk to remove any lumps. Bring to the boil and then reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes until thickened. 

5. Add to the white sauce the tin salmon and break up any lumps. Stir in the cooked pasta, frozen veggie mix, half the cheese, lemon juice, parsley, lots of cracked pepper and mix well.

6. Spoon into baking dish and top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

7. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until cheese melts and top is golden.

Serve a hearty bowl of this pasta bake with some soft crusty bread .... enjoy!

This dinner will be on the table in less than an hour, tastes great and makes enough for leftover lunches for the next day!

What's your go to pantry/freezer staples recipe?

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Club Book Review: My Husband Next Door By Catherine Alliott

My Book Club's first pick for the year, for the month of January, was My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott

This is a story set in an English village and told by Ella who married an artist Sebastian when they were young and in love. Now in their thirties, their marriage didn't work out and they separate and Sebastian moves out of the farmhouse and into an outhouse with other holiday lets on the property.

Add to this uncomfortable setting, their two teenage kids in the middle of the separation going from one parent to another, the town folk, gossips, and family involved and interfering in everyone's business.

The story kicks off when the couple are already separated and Ella backtracks to explain how things came to be as they are now. So the reader doesn't know the real reason why they separated until the very end of the book when 'a big secret' emerges - if this secret had been told at the beginning I think the story would have more substance and a greater understanding and appreciation for the lives they were living.

Life in the village and on the farmhouse had some nice moments but the story as a whole was painfully slow from start to end and a bit of a bore. While there were some fun parts that made me smile and the writing was good, the story progressed too slowly without anything really happening.

I recommend this book to Catherine Alliott fans who enjoy light romance and chick lit.

I give this book 2 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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Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Courtyard Garden - Design Plan

As you may have seen if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram Mr P and I have been getting our hands dirty working in the front courtyard garden these last few weekends.

Over the years of dreaming of the perfect courtyard garden I've changed my mind many times on what I want out here and while the final design may not be my absolute dream garden it's pretty close for our budget, current needs, and being mindful of resale and the needs of others in the future.

This is what the courtyard looks like from the inside and outside at the moment ..... it's basically a blank canvas waiting to be painted!

This is what Mr P and I have come up with for our courtyard garden design:

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

This is the courtyard garden design plan .... in a bit more detail:


I know there's a trend towards synthetic lawn as it requires little to no maintenance and no water but synthetic lawn really heats up in the sun and the courtyard gets full sun for most of the day so it wasn't an option for us - plus you just can't beat real grass, the environment needs it, and more importantly our furbaby Lexi needs it too! 

We will have two large rectangles of grass between the pavers. This was the best we could do for the odd shaped space and I'm hoping this design will look modern and artistic.


We will lay pavers all around the outside area as well as a paved path to pull the rubbish bins out and a large paved area for seating.

The pavers will be the same colour as the limestone fence walls as the light colour keeps cool underfoot and won't heat up too much in the sun.

Seating Area

There will be a fairly large paved area for an outdoor seating area - with a lounger, chairs and coffee table.

Mr P is also considering building a built in bench seat nearby along the back wall which would be awesome not only for seating but storage as well.

Shade Sails

It is full sun out here for most of the day so shade is a must so we can sit out here and enjoy it all year round.

We thought about building a patio but that would need council approval and be very expensive so in the end we decided shade sails would be a better option. The shade sails will be placed over the seating area and attach to the roof of the house and pillars of the courtyard.

We are in the process of getting quotes for shade sails as the support poles need to be installed before we can do the paving.

Succulent and Rain Chain Garden

In front of the bedroom we have already set up some large pots with a rain chain feature and want to finish this garden bed with succulents and hardy plants surrounded by pebbles.

I'm so excited that my obsession with succulents can finally run wild in this garden!

Vegetable and Herb Garden

We haven't quite decided whether we'll build in a brick garden bed or if we'll buy some large metal tubs, but either way this garden will be along the side wall as it gets some shade from the sun here.

We have already laid the reticulation so it will be ready to hook up water supply once it's done.

I can't wait to grow my own herbs again I really miss being able to pick them fresh from the garden when cooking.

Timber Screen For Rubbish Bins

We have 3 large wheelie rubbish bins that we want to hide behind a screen and these will be moved to the far corner of the courtyard out of sight.

Initially I wanted a decorative metal screen but the pattern allow you to see through them too much. So instead Mr P has started to make a timber screen from the same timber look slats as the courtyard fence

Now that we have decided on the courtyard garden design and have a clear vision for what we want out here - we have been getting quotes for some of the work and started work on the projects we can DIY and tackle ourselves.

I really can't wait for us to make the most of this outdoor space which has been an unused sandpit for far too long!

What do you think of the courtyard design plan? 

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mrs + Mr P Got Hitched!

I don't normally share personal posts on the blog but with all the DIY wedding posts I did leading up to the big day I just had to follow through and share Mr P and I's wedding day with you .....

WARNING photo overload coming right up!

Introducing the new Mrs + Mr P!

On Being My Own Wedding Planner

I was my own wedding planner and had everything organised so there was really nothing to worry about leading up to the wedding day. I wasn't stressed or nervous I felt quietly calm and confident waiting for the big day to arrive.

I was a master with my budget spreadsheet keeping it updated and us on track with our spending so that I'm very proud to say we came in under budget due to my savvy bride skills!

The Day Before 

The day before the wedding I packed up the flower bouquets and button hole flowers I'd made, together with some fancy bottles of champagne we received as engagement gifts and an overnight bag.

My bridesmaid and I drove to Fremantle to an apartment where I'd be getting ready for the wedding with my bridal party, parents and brother. Mr P and I booked a separate apartment to stay in on our wedding night. 

The night before 

On my last day as a single girl I watched the sunset over cocktails and tapas with my bridal party and it was such a perfect end to one chapter in my life's journey and the promise of something new to come.

When I think back to when I first got engaged, I wasn't even going to have bridesmaids, but from the hens party, to wedding dress shopping, to making me laugh when I was stressed out was such a huge part of the wedding and looking back it would not have been such an enjoyable experience without having my girls by my side and taking part in the journey with me. 

I spent the night with my bridal party in an awesome apartment in Fremantle which had plenty of room for us girls to all get ready together in the morning and for my family to join us and pop the bubbles and share in the moment as well.

Getting Ready ..... Wake Up + Make up

So much of the wedding day is about getting ready .... I made croissants and coffee for breakfast with my bridesmaid before my parents, brother and partner, matron of honour and her hubby who was also our photographer all came to the apartment in the morning.

My bridesmaid Miss J did all our makeup - there were four of us including my Mum, myself, matron of honour and Miss J herself.

We'd had a few makeup trials beforehand so knew exactly what looks to do and Miss J has done some make up courses and did a fantastic job. This was a big budget saver as I only needed to buy a little bit of extra makeup.

The only drama was that we all forgot our make up brushes but we managed with what we had!

Hair + A Fly Away Veil + Wedding Outfit

A mobile hairdresser came and did all our hair dos and although we hadn't had a trial for the wedding hair, we'd all gone to her for hair cuts and shown her pictures of the styles we liked so we were comfortable with her and confident she would make our hair look amazing.

The girls had their hair styled how they wanted it - I was not one of those brides who was going to tell them how to wear their hair! 

Even though the hairdresser left hair pins to pin in my veil we forgot to do this so when Mr P lifted my veil in the Church for the big smooch the veil fell out ....... the priest and my bridesmaid Miss J then had a heated discussion about the best way to pin the veil back in it was rather funny!

I didn't want to spent thousands of dollars on a dress I would only wear one day but of course like any bride I wanted to find a dress that made me feel beautiful, I was comfortable in, and could dance in all night long. This dress was all that and more.

My wedding dress, alterations, veil, shoes, jewellery, make up and hair came in under $1000 .... what can I say I'm a super savvy bride!

Get Me To The Church!

The limo picked Mr P and the lads up from our house where they got ready and drove them to the Church.

We had young ushers Mr P's niece and nephew greet everyone at the Church and hand out the DIY ceremony booklets I made listing the simple and funny order of events .... Music starts, We get married, Everyone parties! To be honest that really set the vibe for the day and it's what happened, everyone was so happy and relaxed, it was exactly what we wanted.

The limo came and picked us up and drove us the short distance from our accommodation to the Church. We were all bursting with excitement and got to the Church on time ..... Only to then sit and wait in the limo for 45 minutes for a very special guest to arrive who had car trouble on the way.

Here Comes The Bride + The I Do's

Once everyone was settled in Church it was time to get the show on the road!

I had a lovely lady play the piano in the Church and I walked down the aisle proudly linking arms with my Dad to Edelweiss by Theodore Bikel because it reminded me of my childhood and my Dad singing along with The Sound Of Music.

Picking the music and songs for the Church and Reception turned out to be the hardest decisions we made - there are so many song choices and matching the music with the moment was really hard but I'm happy with the choices we made in the end.

Refreshments In The Amphitheatre

After the Church ceremony and the I do's we walked down the aisle as husband and wife to the piano lady playing Happy Together by The Turtles and everyone started clapping to the music it was such a happy and uplifting moment.

We had organised refreshments in the beautiful amphitheatre garden behind the Church, which my Dad and brother had set up just before the Ceremony. My DIY frame and decorations  on the table said it all - It's Time To Drink Champagne And Dance On The Table!

My Dad and Uncle served champagne and beer which all the guests drank in the spring sunshine (before the weather turned wet and wild!) while we stood in the congregation line receiving lots of hugs and kisses and well wishes from our friends and family.

Happy Snaps With The Bridal Party

The weather was not a beautiful sunny spring day as I imagined it would be and come the afternoon it was freezing cold with gusting winds, rain and hail. But as the sayings go - It's meant to bring luck if it rains on your wedding day and as for tying the knot - A wet knot is harder to untie!

Once Mr P and I and our bridal party were all together, our limo driver took us to a few stops around Fremantle's bathers beach and the lighthouse for photos.

You can tell the weather was pretty wild in our photos .... I wanted a photo with my veil in the air and I got more than that it flew out of my hair into the sky more than a few times and we had to chase it down and pin it back in!

Our Grand Entrance As Husband + Wife

After the photo stops Mr P and I and our bridal party went back to our apartment to freshen up and then our limo drove us to our wedding reception at Little Creatures, which was just a few minutes from the apartment we were staying at.

Little Creatures is at the end of a jetty sitting over the water and has a large private reception venue with a few different areas - an enclosed bar with glass walls overlooking the water - a marque with decking underfoot filled with tables and chairs, lounges and seating - and an outside deck area although with the wild weather this was not used very much on the night.

The bridal party and Mr P and I made our grand entrance to one of our favourite party songs Feel So Close by Calvin Harris.

Drinks + Food + An Oyster Shucker

We had an open bar with all Little Creatures beer and ciders on tap, wines and bubbles. Needless to say the large pints got everyone pretty happy pretty quickly!

For food we had a cocktail style reception so it was all finger food, lots of hot and cold canapes being served by waitstaff, with the food service finishing with a variety of dessert canapes. 

My splurge was to have an oyster shucker set up on the deck shucking fresh oysters for guests. The oyster shucker was one of their top chefs, shucking fresh oysters, which were served with all the condiments and was a real hit.

Vintage + Rustic Inspired Reception Decor

The venue Little Creatures is decorated with a vintage and eclectic mix of furniture and included all the vases, flowers, candles, books, and knick knacks which the venue set up themselves.

Even the gift table set up with a suitcase for the cards was provided by the venue.

It was a huge relief to know that we didn't have to set up or pack away any of the wedding decor, what the venue provided was absolutely perfect, I wouldn't have changed a thing.

Speeches + The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

The speeches we did at the start of the night so we could get the formalities out of the way and relax and enjoy the reception with our guests.

My bridesmaid and matron of honour gave an amazing speech in the form of a song they'd written and recorded on my parents farm and then displayed on a big projector screen. The rap song was to the tune of Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and was just outstanding - it was funny, unique and left me and everyone else gobsmacked!

I wrote a speech and as nervous as I was I'm so glad I got to stand up and thank all the people nearest and dearest to me and tell them how much they meant to me. Weddings are an opportunity you might not otherwise get to express how you feel and share what someone means to you and so I swallowed my fear, held Mr P's hand tight, and embraced the opportunity to give a speech.

Cutting The Cake Of Cheese

After the speeches we cut the cake to the golden oldie song Love and Marriage by Frank Sinatra.

I have already shared my wedding cake of cheese but here are some more photos as it was just so special I loved it and my guests are still talking about it now!

The cheese was taken away and served on little cheese boards with crackers and condiments for guests to nibble on all night. The cheese was eaten more than a sweet cake would have been and I am so glad we went for the cheese.

Our First Dance .... Twice!

After we cut the cake we opened the dance floor with our first dance from my all time favourite movie Dirty Dancing - I've had the time of my life, by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.

We practiced our first dance only once at home in the living room so we just improvised and are pretty good dance partners together so it went pretty well ...... Until Mr P tried to do "the lift" and I accidentally whacked him in the face! It's safe to say that part was not rehearsed!!

My Mum unfortunately missed the first dance and so they made us do our first dance AGAIN! To be honest the second time around we were much better as we'd already had a practice run and I even managed to do the lift without knocking Mr P out this time.

It was a lot of fun and who else gets to do their first dance twice!?

We had a DJ friend play music for us from song lists on his laptop which was plugged into the venue's sound system. I gave him a list of must play songs and do not play songs (no Macarena or Chicken Dance at my wedding thanks very much!) and left the rest of the music up to his good judgement. Having a friend DJ was also a good budget saver.

The DIY Photo Booth

For entertainment we had a photo booth which I'd made myself with a backdrop sheet, polaroid camera, props and guest book for everyone to stick their photo in and leave us a message. 

Everyone loved the photo booth and using all the props - it was never empty there was always someone having their photo taken!

The photos that were glued into the book on the night were a bit messy, I guess alcohol and glue sticks aren't really a good combination! So I removed the photos and glued them in again neatly. The album was big enough for me to include everything from the engagement and wedding including the invitations and stationary and photos as well so this has become a beautiful keepsake wedding book.


We decided not to have a videographer, as I know we probably would only watch the wedding once  a year and it would sit in the cupboard collecting dust.

Apart from 'the day before photos' all these photos were taken by my ridiculously talented photographer friend Sam Proctor who is so much of a superstar that this was his wedding gift to us, showing his skills at the wedding and being our very own paparazzi.

The photos capture our wedding day perfectly - everyone is smiling and laughing, it was such a happy wedding and the happiest day of Mr P and I's lives.

And They Lived Happily Ever After .....

For our grand exit we were meant to leave to the original song version of Happy Together by The Turtles which was also our procession song at the Church. But we were having too much fun to leave and stuck around for a bit more dancing and drinks until the best man ushered us out!

Mr P and I walked hand in hand along the jetty and water front around to our apartment which was only a few minutes walk away. 

It was a beautiful end to our wedding day and while I couldn't control the crazy weather our wedding day encompassed a day with all the things we love and to share it with our friends and family and most favourite people in the world was the best.

Weddings are a lot of work and organising but it was all worth it in the end and looking back at all the photos and reliving each moment as I typed this blog post made it all worthwhile.

Of course the best bit is that Mr P and I are now married and will live happily ever after!

I have officially changed my surname and we both still get a kick out of calling eachother husband and wife too. The honeymoon period is sweet and lovely and I hope it never ends!

So that was our vintage inspired wedding organised by yours truly!

Ceremony, Flowers + Music: St Pauls' Church, Beaconsfield
Reception, Decor, Food + Cake: Little Creatures, Fremantle
Accommodation: Be Fremantle
Transport: Lakes Limousines
Wedding Dress + Veil: Legends Bridal, Joondalup
Bride's Shoes: Betts
Bridesmaid's Dresses: Beautiful Gowns, Lathlain
Bride's Jewellery: Glitter + Co, Perth
Bridesmaid's Jewellery: Lou Lou, Perth
Hair: Bec's Hairdressing, Leederville
Bride + Bridesmaid's hair pieces: Colette
Groom's Suit and Tie + Groomsman's Suits: Myer
Groomsman's Ties: Aussie Ties
Photographer: Sam Proctor
DIY: Flowers, Music, Photobooth + Cake Topper

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