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Friday, December 9, 2016

Before + After: Our Courtyard Shade Sail

On the weekend we finished installing the new shade sail in the front courtyard and it looks amazing!

When your vision turns into a reality it's such a good feeling ..... this is why I love renovating to look at the before and afters and see the changes we have made to our 1960's humble abode! 

You may recall back in April Mr P and I installed the metal shade sail poles ourselves before the courtyard was paved.

It took a lot of concrete ... 360kg in fact .... to secure the poles into the ground so they would take the weight of a shade sail attached to them and so they would last for a very long time (forever!).

After the paving was finished, the garden beds were built, grass laid and everything else was done in the courtyard we were ready for the shade sail.

We waited until the wet and windy winter season was finished and then called our shade sail guy from Big Fat Snapper who we'd already worked out the design with, to come out and do a final measure between the poles, so he could make the shade sail to fit the space perfectly. 

He made the shade sail that week and then came back on the weekend and install it. It took about an hour with Mr P and I on a pole each while he jumped from pole to pole to tighten the ropes and get the sail at the right angle and at the right tension so it was nice and straight and firm. There's a real art to this and you can tell he takes a lot of pride in his work and wants you to be 100% happy with it and for it to look great because let's face it nobody wants a saggy shade sail flapping around do they!

There were lots of colours of shade cloth to pick from - we went for a charcoal colour to match the roof of the house and the metal poles we picked a colour to match the limestone courtyard walls - I think it all blends in with the house nicely.

It's such a practical feature and when the sun beats down at the front of the house now we can sit under it in the shade. It stops the heat of the sun too as it's all fully UV sun safe.

Now all we need to do is set up the courtyard with our outdoor furniture and decor and make it all pretty and nice.

I need to find some nice feature pots and plant them out to add some greenery out here too.

Our vegetable and herb garden also needs some love and attention as well!

I'm loving how our courtyard garden is really coming along now ... check out more before and afters of the house exterior in my House Tour page!

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Book Lovers Christmas Party

My Book Club 'The Tuesday Girls' had our 6th Christmas Party last weekend.

Every year we do something different to celebrate the silly season and this year the Mums tucked the kids into bed, the wives kissed the hubbys goodbye, the rest of us patted our fur-babies and jumped in the car for a girls weekend away!

We really wanted to stay together overnight in a big house but couldn't find one with enough beds to accommodate us all.

So instead I found us a great self contained apartment in South Perth where we booked two rooms to sleep us all and it was in a really good location close to the Swan River and a short walk to nearby restaurants.

We went out for a nice pub lunch, indulged in nibbles and drinks back at our apartment for dinner and had a lovely late breakfast the next day before heading home.

Of course it wouldn't be a party without countless bottles of bubbles and wine being consumed as well!

We watched movies, played games and essentially followed the mantra ... eat, drink and be merry!

For gifts rather than buy for everyone we do a Secret Santa and give just one person who has been secretly drawn out for us a gift - the gifts were all so well thought out and there's always a few books being gifted! 

I also prepared some goodie bags filled with book products to give to the book club girls which were gifted by some awesome Australian companies and individuals which I've detailed below. 

Stress Free Dinner Parties and Build Your Signature Wardrobe by Alexandria Blaelock - An Australian writer and philosopher and author of these great reads. 

Stress Free Dinner Parties is a great book for anyone who loves to entertain at home and it takes you through how to plan, host and most importantly enjoy your party. Build Your Signature Wardrobe is inspired by the Great Depression and World War eras on how they would build a signature wardrobe and this book takes it into the 21st century and explains how to shop strategically and helps you confidentially build your signature wardrobe.

Brand New Day: The highs and lows of starting a small business by Lara Solomon - London born and now Australian based author Lara, in diary style, shares her experience of leaving her full time job to start her own business venture and the trials and tribulations, what worked and what didn't and is a really honest and open account in the first 4 years of her business. 

This is a perfect read for anyone wanting a better understanding and honest view of what running a business is all about.

Australian Book Review Magazine - One of Australia's leading cultural magazines this is full of reviews, essays and commentary on the latest films, plays, operas, dance and art exhibitions. It provides an outlet for creative writing around Australia which is then showcased internationally.

This magazine is a great read for art and culture enthusiasts.

Get Packing: The Ultimate Travel Guide by John Kumm & Barbara Walsh - John and Barbara have written a couple of travel guides and The Ultimate Travel Guide is geared towards anyone who loves the idea of travelling the world but is a bit unsure about where to start to plan for such an amazing holiday. From tips on saving on accommodation to what to pack for a cruise holiday this guide has it all.

This book is a great read for newbie globetrotters.

This Is It by Jackie Parry - Originally from the UK Jackie is now an adopted Australian and has published numerous books of her travels around the world. This Is It is about a sailing trip she took with her husband Noel which turned out to be as much a voyage of self discovery as it was an adventure.

Check out their website Noel & Jackie's Journeys for more tales of their travel adventures.

I also hosted a giveaway which was decided on who could tell the best joke and the winner received this awesome Book Club Agenda tea towel from Stylie which sums up our Book Club perfectly!

Stylie is the creation of two sisters who have a knack for seeking out creative, cute and quirky bits and pieces. They also run gift wrapping workshops in Sydney which would be a lot of fun and you can follow them on Instagram for daily creative wrapping ideas!

It was such a great weekend away and I'm just so happy to have found a group of girls who love books and reading as much as I do!

Have the Christmas celebrations started for you?

Disclosure: Thanks very much to Alexandria Blaelock, Lara Solomon, ABR, John Kumm, Jackie Parry and Stylie for providing these book lovers products. I have not received any payment or compensation for this blog post. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Monday, December 5, 2016

Book Review: Plant Craft By Caitlin Atkinson

This is a book review of Plant Craft by Caitlin Atkinson that was published by Timber Press on 19 October 2016.

Caitlin Atkinson is a photographer, stylist and interior merchandiser. Caitlin photographed the book Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias and this is the first book she has photographed, styled and written herself.

This is a beautiful craft book based around the concept that not everyone has a garden but with just a few materials you can bring some nature into your home in the way of crafts inspired by nature and made of living plants, flowers and branches.

With over 250 pages and 30 projects ranging from a table centerpiece, hanging mobile, hanging rock garden, bench planter and more there are projects to suit all types of creatives.

The projects range from easy to difficult and will suit all levels and talents (yes including black thumbs like me!). The projects look easy to follow with step by step instructions and lots of images to assist each step.

What I love most about this book is the beautiful photos which are lush, green and full of life and really inspire creativity. You can tell this is a photographers book it's just beautiful you could almost buy it just for the stunning images!

I recommend this book to plant lovers who want to bring some garden greenery inside.

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

Plant Craft can be purchased from the author here 

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

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Backyard Deck + Patio Design

We came home from our Seminyak holiday to some great news in the mail .... Our backyard deck and patio design has been signed off by our Local Council and we have a permit to build!

So I thought I'd better show you the final design plan!

Now you may recall, initially the deck design was going from fence to fence across the whole backyard - all deck and one level was the easiest and less expensive design. But then we thought about our beloved furbaby Lexi (I mean who can resist that cute lil face!) and needed to come up with some ideas for a pet friendly deck and decided we had to provide some lawn for her so it wasn't all hard surfaces.

Once Mr P and I had a good idea of the deck design we wanted we arranged for a Draftsman to come out and have a look and draw up a plan for us. We were pretty happy with the design he came up with other than he included two lots of steps one going down from the end of the deck and the other going down from the garage door to a sunken lawn area.

Building two lots of steps would be expensive and we weren't really sure we would like the look of a sunken lawn area as it was a little small and may feel closed in. We started to think about how we raised the level of the ground in our front courtyard (you can see the before and afters on my house tour page) so that it was all one level and it made such a difference leveling out the ground and it makes the space a lot more usable as well.

So we decided to amend the design to remove the steps and instead raise the ground level - to do this we will need to build a retaining wall on each side and then fill it in with sand to raise the ground level and then lay lawn on top. As it will be the same level as the deck we won't need steps on that side which is a bonus. We still need one lot of steps near the garage door as this is a lower level than the laundry door and the french doors.

The final design will have a deck that is 12 meters x 4 meters which is a great size and goes from the very corner of the house up to the laundry door. The deck will stop in line with the laundry door and the retaining walls will be built in a rectangle with the deck sitting over the retaining so you can't really see it.

Then there will be a grass courtyard 4 meters x 4 meters which is a great size for our rescue dog Lexi to laze around on and do her business. It will also be a good spot for a wall hung clothes line to be installed.

Next to the grass courtyard will be a paved area 4 meters x 4 meters leading into the garage. The plan shows this as deck as well but we have since decided to pave this area using our leftover limestone pavers from the front courtyard.

The only thing we wish we had done differently with our renovations was to have all the doors at the same level.

Unfortunately this is not always possible and when we built our garage it had to be lower than the rest of the house (see garage door on left hand side of plan) and so the garage door is slightly lower than the laundry door and french doors which means we have to have a step down to reach it.

The deck will mostly be accessed from the french doors in the dining room and the laundry door so it won't be too bad. The garage door access will only be used when we're using things in the garage.

I am really happy with the final design plan we have come up with as it's practical, it's dog friendly and it's going to give us an amazing entertaining area.

We are also building a patio over most of the deck so that everything is undercover and protected and can be used all year round like an outdoor room.

The patio will end at the laundry door so the grass courtyard is exposed to the elements otherwise the grass will never grow if it doesn't get any sun and is in shade all the time.

Once we signed off on the design with the Draftsman we had a Structural Engineer do the drawings for the deck, patio, retaining wall and fence which needed to be drawn to specifications.

Previously we've had to get Council approval on a few renovating projects - our garage extension (which took almost a year to approve after countless knock backs) and our courtyard (which took us 3 attempts to get approved) and so this time around we have become smarter about the process. We realized we will have a much better chance of getting plans approved by our Local Council if it has first been signed off by a Structural Engineer.

So we submitted the plans and structural engineer drawings to our Local Council for approval.

The Council made us change a few things with the design and we also had to get our 3 neighours on both sides and the back of us to sign off on the plans - if we didn't we would have to go through Council Planning which would cost more money and take more time. It took a few weeks, phone calls, letters and visits to the neighbors and eventually we got them them all to sign and we submitted them to the Council.

It took about 3 months from start to finish but the  plans have now been stamped and signed as approved and we've been issued with a Building Permit so we can now go ahead.

We have started organizing the trades to do this project which we're leaving to the professionals it's not a DIY job we want to attempt ourselves.

We already have our retaining wall builder who built our courtyard retaining walls and fence and retaining walls for our side fence so he will do all the retaining work for us using beautiful limestone blocks.

Next we need to find a new fence company to install the Colourbond fence on top of the retaining wall, unfortunately the company we used for our side fence earlier this year is no longer in business. We are also having our side fence done at the same time as our neighbor has agreed to go halves in this so we thought it was best to have it all done together - this is a limestone retaining wall and colorbond fence along the boundary line between our two properties. We have already removed the old asbestos fence a few weeks ago in preparation for this.

We had a carpenter out to give us a quote to build both the deck and patio. We have seen his work before and he is a really good carpenter so if the quote comes back reasonable then we will go ahead with him.

With some good organising and project management skills Mr P and I are hoping to book in all the trades over the next few weeks so that we can have it all built this year in time for Christmas (which is only 5 weeks away!) and the Summer holidays.

After living with a backyard sandpit for over a year it's so exciting to think we will have an outdoor space we can use again soon! 

What do you think of the final deck design?

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Book Club Book Review: The Girl You Left Behind By Jojo Moyes

The last book for my Book Club to read this year was The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

My Book Club meet ups are the last Tuesday of the month which is where our name The Tuesday Girls comes from! We don't meet in November and December due to the Christmas season so we will discuss this book at our Christmas Party this weekend.

This book also forms part of my 2016 Reading Challenge list at 3/12 a book you've been meaning to read - being a fan of Jojo Moyes I want to read all of her books!

This story is written and set out in alternating chapters about the past and present.

One story is about Sophie and her family in 1916 in France during the war when the German's invaded and took over their homes, possessions and sent thousands of innocents to concentration camps. Sophie's husband was an artist and painted a portrait of her 'The Girl You Left Behind' which becomes the main theme of the story.

The other story is about Liv told almost a century later in 2006 in London and centers around the beloved painting that hangs on her wall at home which was a gift from her late husband and how it came to be there.

Not only is this a tale of romance and faith but it is also a really interesting story told about the war time and what happened to art during that time.

I really love the writing style it flowed beautifully and the way the two stories joined up and complimented eachother all the way to the last page made it a real joy to read. The female characters are strong and likable and I could understand them and feel what they were going through on their life journeys.

I recommend this book to Jojo Moyes fans and anyone interested in romantic historical fiction.

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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Friday, November 25, 2016

Subdivision Progress: Backyard Side Fence Removal

Our plans to subdivide our backyard are still moving along with another job ticked off the to do list - to remove the old dividing fence between our neighbor's backyard and our backyard. 

Back in July the right hand side of backyard fence was removed and a new limestone retaining wall and colourbond metal fence installed. At that time we were still waiting for our neighbor's agreement to go ahead with doing their side of the fence which they have now agreed to which is great news.

This fence on the left hand side of the backyard is really long about 40 meters and it's made of asbestos which is very dangerous if the fibers become airborne so the fence was treated during the week by the neighbor spraying it with bondcrete which helps to contain the fibers if the fence panels break when they're being removed.

Here is the fence which as you can see had all but fallen down as it's over 50 years old .....

We decided to all muck in and remove the old fence together to save money - this way we didn't need to pay anyone to remove it only the rubbish tip fees to dispose of the old fence.

Mr P, my brother and the neighbor all donned their safety gear and armed with shovels and muscle power, dug out the fence panels and loaded them onto the back of the ute. We put a wooden palette on the back of the ute and then stacked the fence panels on top then wrapped the whole package in heavy duty plastic and marked it with asbestos tape. We had to do two trips to the rubbish tip and the ute drives onto a weigh bridge and they charge you per tonne - ours came to a total of $150. 

There's a funny story about our land and the neighbors - there use to be a laneway that ran along the side here and the council didn't want it anymore and so the neighbor purchased the extra piece of land along the laneway but never moved his fence. So when we put the new fence in it will actually need to come across almost a metre into our backyard space! 

The dirt filled backyard is ours and the lovely green lawn and garden side is the neighbors.

We have put up a makeshift fence along the side until we get the proper retaining wall and fence installed.

Slowly but surely our subdivision plans will be finished once the new fence is installed as it's the last thing we need to do which is pretty exciting!

Have you tackled any renovating projects around the home lately?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Week In Seminyak, Indonesia

Mr P and I are back from our week long getaway to Seminyak, Indonesia feeling relaxed and recharged - the sign of a good holiday!

I first visited Bali about 15 years ago and stayed in Kuta which is a bustling, lively, party town. This time around it was nice to stay out of the hustle and bustle and in the nicer area of Seminyak.

A few months ago I found an amazing deal on Scoopon which gave us over 60% off accommodation plus a bunch of extras like airport transfers, meals, massages and more which was too good a deal to pass up. 

The place we stayed at The Jineng Villas was amazing - it's a group of about 10 villas which are all privately enclosed with their own swimming pool. If you are looking for a romantic and secluded place to stay which is perfect for couples I highly recommend it. 

The accommodation package included 3 meals a day which they would bring to our villa and set the dining table for a romantic meal. We could have breakfast, lunch or dinner and high tea every day. 

I had so many recommendations from people for places to go for dinner or bars for drinks but because the food was so good at our villa we only went out for lunch and dinner a few times as it was just too relaxing dining in and it was free!

Bali is a really hot and humid climate and they have two seasons - wet and dry. November is the wet season so it was even more humid after it rained, which it did in the afternoon and evening most days. 

So when we weren't having a dip in our private swimming pool we spent time at the beach cooling down with our toes in the water and at the beach side bars.

One day we went on a sightseeing tour with Bali Driver Seminyak - we did the full day Tanah Lot and Countryside Tour

We were in our own private van and driven around by our guide out of the city of Bali, through all the little towns and into the countryside. We visited three temples which were all so different and unique to one another, we trekked through a rice terrace field and had lunch overlooking the rice fields (this was on my bucket list and I loved it) and on our way home we went to a coffee and tea plantation and tasted samples of all the different coffee and tea varieties.

It was great to get out of the city and tourist areas for the day and see some of the real Bali.

Another really fun thing we did was a Balinese Cooking Class with Nia Cooking School - it was great and I highly recommend doing a cooking class if you want to know more about the local food.

We met up with our group and were taken to a local food market in Seminyak and learnt all about the different spices, herbs and vegetables used in Balinese cooking. Then we went to the Chef's Restaurant Warung Nia and our group took it in turns to help the Chef prepare each dish - we made 12 dishes in total which we were then served for lunch.

We were given a recipe book of the dishes we made which was a really nice touch. Mr P and I are big foodies so we can't wait to recreate some of these traditional Balinese dishes at home.

We had such a great holiday on this tropical island with a good balance of relaxing, pampering, eating, swimming, shopping and sightseeing!

Have you been to Indonesia? 

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