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Thursday, October 20, 2016

DIY: How To Hang Art With Trojan Tools

Over the years as I've traveled to different places I've limited my gimmicky souvenir purchases which ironically are mostly made in China and I've never even been to China! Instead I look for handmade items from the markets or local streets to buy direct from the people who make it.

On our honeymoon in the USA last year we came home with three beautiful artworks all representing special memories of our travels. This black and white sketch of Bourbon Street in New Orleans we picked up from the artist himself at the local market and he even wrote a message for us on the back - you can't get a more personalized souvenir than that!

This art needed to be framed and luckily it was an easy size to frame myself so I hit the shops and found an inexpensive frame at Kmart with a simple black frame and white matting for a professional look.

Mr P and I are experienced art hangers now and have become a lot quicker at this DIY task compared to how long it took us to hang our first gallery wall of black and white photos.

Once you have your art hanging technique right there's no stopping the different arrangements you can create - centered arrangements, gallery photo walls, gallery art walls, the possibilities are endless!

But of course you need to have the right tools for the job too. Being a home DIYer I'm a fan of Trojan Tools which are an Australian brand of tools found on the shelves at Bunnings and marketed towards home improvement and DIY enthusiasts. I've used their renovating tools before and was more than happy to receive some tools needed to hang art at home like a pro.

To hang art you need - A tape measure, level, pencil, hammer or drill

Then you can useA nail, wall plug, screw or hook

I decided to hang the framed art in our recently renovated powder room just off the laundry which was in need of some finishing touches.

The framed art may have stayed in this spot for a couple of months before we hung it on the wall just to be sure we had found the right home for it .... Does anyone else take months to decide where to hang art or is it just me?

A step by step on how you can hang art

Firstly, you need to decide where to hang your art - hold the frame up and play around with different positions until you find the one you like. As this is a small room, it looked best to center the art on the wall. 

Another tip when it comes to finding the height for hanging art is at eye level, otherwise it can come off looking too high or too low. We went with Mr P's eye level because I am a short-ass!

Use a tape measure to find the center of the wall and mark the center with a pencil.

Next use a tape measure to measure the frame and find out where the center is and mark the center of the frame with a pencil.

Hold the frame against the wall in the position where you want to hang it and use your pencil to mark the center point on the wall.

We used a small level to check the frame was straight and then a large level to draw a straight line.

Now this next part is something we learnt from previous mistakes to do - otherwise your picture will not hang in the exact spot you want it to!

If you have hanging wire on the back of the frame you need to hook your tape measure into the wire and pull towards the top of the frame and measure the distance between the top of the frame and the wire. Likewise if it's a hook on the back of the frame you need to do the same thing and measure the distance from the hook to the top of the frame - this frame had a hook.

Measure on the wall again adding in the measurement between the hook/wire and frame and this new X marks the spot is where you need to drill the hole and hang the hook.

Bear in mind the nail, screw or hook needs to be the correct weight to support the frame.

We use both screws and hooks depending on the type of frame or art we are hanging - nails don't go through our brick walls so that's not an option for us. 

As we have brick walls we used a drill to drill a hole and then a hammer to drive a plug in.

Then we used a drill again to drive a screw into the plug.

A tip to keep the dust from going everywhere when you're drilling is to hold a dustpan underneath to collect the dust - then you don't have anything to clean up!

I have myself a very handy hubby he can work a drill and clean at the same time!!

Once your hook (or screw in our case) is in you're ready to hang your art on the wall.

With one final check of the level, place it on top of the frame, to check that it's straight and then stand back and admire your handy work.

There you have it - in less than half an hour we have hung our art just like a professional!

It's so nice to have some personality on the walls and something interesting to look at - the powder room can be quite a boring place otherwise!

It's so nice to be reminded of our travels to New Orleans with this gorgeous piece of NOLA art on our wall at home.

Do you take months to decide where to hang art? Or is it just me!

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Disclosure: Thanks very much to Trojan Tools for providing some Trojan tools for review. I have not received any payment or compensation for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Book Review: Everything We Keep By Kerry Lonsdale

This is a book review of Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale that was published by Lake Union Publishing on 1 August 2016.

Kerry Lonsdale resides in Northern California with her husband, two children and an aging golden retriever who's convinced she's still a puppy. Kerry has written professionally for over 20 years and this is her debut book.

This is the story of 26 year old Aimee whose childhood sweetheart and fiance James dies on a work trip to Mexico. So instead of walking down the aisle on her wedding day, Aimee is burying James at his funeral.

Aimee tries to get on with her life, she opens her own cafe, has supportive friends and an attractive friend by her side, but she still continues to question what happened to James and starts to believe he may still be alive. So about a year on Aimee finds herself on a plane to Mexico to find out for herself once and for all whether James is alive or not.

This is a really unique story with lots of twists and turns, family dramas and hidden secrets. It is a real page turner with an ending that leads to a sequel being written to continue on the story - I would definitely read the sequel to see how Aimee's life turns out.

The characters in the story are all described well and I was never confused about who someone was and what their role was meant to be - with lots of characters this is not always easy to do and I'm often confused about someone's part but the author accomplished defining the characters really well and I adored the nice ones and detested the nasty ones!

I recommend this drama filled story to mystery and suspense fans.

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

Everything We Keep can be purchased from the author here or Lake Union 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 Lake Union Publishing to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

I Am Sydney Bound

I'm signing off the blog this week as I'm heading to Sydney for a few days to attend a work conference.

You can keep in touch with me on the Jarrah Jungle Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages

I missed the conference last year as I was dealing with some health issues but I'm fighting fit this time around and looking forward to going this year. This will be my 5th year I've attended the conference and it's always good to keep learning and developing skills.

I always look forward to an interstate trip and it's a real treat to have a hotel room all to myself with room service and no cooking or housework to do!

I will see you back on the blog next week hopefully with another book review as I'll have some time to read on the 5 hour flights!

Have a wonderful week everyone x

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Recipe: Making Risotto In A Rice Cooker

Today I'm sharing two of my favourite risotto recipes that I make in my rice cooker.

Risotto in a rice cooker isn't as creamy as the traditional stove top risotto method but it still tastes delicious, it's quick to make taking less than 30 minutes and you can pretty much set and forget it without any wrist aches from stirring for hours! 


Bacon, Mushroom + Zucchini Risotto in the Rice Cooker

Measure out aborio rice, rinse and set aside. Measure out water, remove 1/2 a cup of water and substitute with 1/2 a cup of white wine, add chicken or vegetable stock powder and set aside.

Turn on rice cooker and heat a little oil and butter in rice cooker dish. Fry a finely chopped onion and a clove of crushed garlic, add a handful of sliced mushrooms, a few rashers of chopped bacon and half a diced zucchini. Fry for a few minutes. Add to the mix the rice and stir well.

Reset rice cooker to cook rice, add 1/2 a cup of liquid and close lid. Every 5 or so minutes open lid and if the liquid has absorbed add another 1/2 cup of water. Continue until all liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked.

It's important to wait for the liquid to absorb before adding more just like the traditional risotto method or it will go gluggy. 

As you are opening the lid you may need to cook the rice for a bit longer. When the rice cooker is finished and the rice is cooked add 1/2 a cup of frozen peas, cracked pepper and the juice of half a lemon and give it a final stir. Close the lid for 5 minutes so the heat cooks the peas.

You're now ready to serve the risotto into bowls, top with grated parmesan and squeeze remaining lemon over the top - the lemon really enhances the flavour of this dish.


Chicken, Lemon and Herb Risotto in the Rice Cooker

As above, measure rice and liquid.

Turn on rice cooker and heat oil and butter and fry chopped onion and crushed garlic for  a few minutes. Add rice and stir until grains are coated. Add liquid gradually as stated above. Half way through (after 10 minutes) add chopped cooked chicken, fresh herbs (such as oregano, parsley and mint), grated lemon rind and cracked pepper. (Add some greens like spinach or peas at this stage too if you like).

When rice cooker finishes and rice is cooked spoon risotto into bowls and squeeze over some fresh lemon, garnish with extra lemon rind, fresh herbs and grated parmesan. 

I have also made this with peeled raw prawns instead of chicken which takes just a few minutes to cook, garnish with spring onions and fresh chilli.

Do you use a rice cooker? 
What's your favourite rice dish?

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

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

First Wedding Anniversary + Getaway To Dunsborough WA

Well 12 September 2016 marked the first wedding anniversary for Mr P and I 

I can't believe we've been married one year now. What a whirlwind 2015 was with planning our engagement party, then the wedding and then a honeymoon around America. Yes 2015 really was an incredible year!

Being married does feel different to being a girlfriend or defacto we feel stronger and more in love (if that's possible!) and ready to take on the world together. I love being Mr P's wifey!

For gifts for the first year traditionally it's paper. So I had this illustration done of Mr P and I on our wedding day with our furbaby Lexi added in as I really wanted to capture our family of three in the first year.

The illustration was created by the talented Natalie of Happy Bear Designs who has an Etsy store. I popped the print in a frame and added it to our gallery wall where it fits in perfectly.

Mr P gifted me some beautiful jewelery not a traditional first year gift but I'm not complaining!

To mark the occasion Mr P and I escaped Down South for a long weekend to celebrate.

We stayed at the Wyndham Resort + Spa in Dunsborough which is right by the ocean and a perfect base for a few days. Our room was really big with a large balcony overlooking the gardens and the pool looked inviting even on a cold Spring day (sadly it was too cold to go for a swim!).

We had breakfast included every morning too which was delicious ... swapping our usual healthy breakfast smoothies for bacon and eggs was a real treat!

Included in our hotel stay was a half day wine tour of the Dunsborough region. It was a quiet day and it ended up being only the two of us on the tour - being driven around with our own driver and tour guide for the day.

The wineries were not busy and we were the only two visitors at some of them and so we felt like we needed to support the small businesses and buy a few bottles of their wines otherwise they may not be open when we visit next time.

We came home with 8 cases (almost 100 bottles!) of mixed wines from the vineyards - lucky we were the only ones on tour that day as we filled up the van with cases of wine!

We visited Mongrel Creek Vineyard (an awesome little shack cellar door), Happs Wines (entertaining hosts and over 30 tastings available), Deep Woods Estate Winery (a bit posh with breathtaking views) and Swooping Magpie Wines (sadly closing down in October 2016 - see above and please support local businesses!).

We had tastings at all the vineyards and lunch at the last stop.

For a late lunch one day we dined at the beautiful Wise Vineyard Restaurant where the vines meet the sea overlooking Eagle Bay.

I have been stalking this place on Instagram for ages and was so happy to finally get my own Insta worthy photo of the view! As well as the view the food was amazing we had share plates of smoked kangaroo, pickled octopus, corn and jamon croquettes and pork belly.

We also dined at the local pubs so Mr P didn't miss out on the footy finals that were playing on TV over that weekend.

Happy hour nibbles with a pint of beer or cider at Occy's were amazing and such good value.

As was the pizza at The Pour House that we took back to our hotel to feast on with a late night movie.

Besides eating and drinking our body weight in wine and food (as you do on holidays!) we also ventured into Busselton and walked along the longest jetty in the southern hemisphere.

There was a local market set up as well which was a nice way to spend a few hours wandering around the stalls looking at the local produce and home made products.

We spent an afternoon in Eagle Bay although it was freezing cold we were snuggled up to keep warm on the beach with beautiful clear skys, watching the waves and people beach fishing, it was a great way to pass the time.

We really do have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world!

Dunsborough is only a 2.5 hour drive from Perth but it feels like we've been on a real mini break it was a great way to spend our first wedding anniversary.

I wonder if it will become a tradition and we can visit every year. I'm sure we'll need to stock up our wine collection again by then!

When was your last mini break or getaway ?

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

DIY: Laying Lawn On The Front Verge

Last weekend we installed reticulation and sprinklers and leveled the ground ready for lawn to be laid on the front verge. Then over the Long Weekend just gone we got busy and laid a lush new green lawn which has added instant kerb appeal to the front of the house.

There's been a bit of debate about whether lawn on verges is the way to go in Perth - due to the hot climate and water restrictions it's hard to grow a lush green lawn. Some Local Councils allow you to grow native shrubs and vegetable gardens instead of lawn. Artificial turf and paving or any hard surface is not allowed. However, we are going down the traditional route and laying a hardy sun loving lawn .... fingers crossed with lots of love and attention it grows well.



For our front courtyard grass areas we got Velveteen lawn from Australian Superior Lawns and so we used them again - this time we picked a Wintergreen Nullarbor Couch lawn as it's one of the tougher lawns that will tolerate full sun and high traffic.

Couch is a bit cheaper than Velveteen and costs $5.50 per roll x 45 rolls + delivery = $335.

The lawn was delivered on Saturday the same day we planted it - you want to plant lawn within 1-2 days of it being cut.

We applied 3 bags of soil solver clay to the ground which gives the soil structure and helps water absorption. We gave it a good rake and mix into the soil and sand. Next we applied a bag of stinky fertilizer to help the lawn grown.

Then we leveled it as flat and smooth as possible so there will be no dips and bumps in the new lawn.

Then Mr P with help from my brother got to work laying the rolls of lawn. Starting from the corner edge and working down in rows the lawn was laid with each new roll tucked in neatly to the next.

To cut the curved edge of the driveway and around the sprinklers a sharp long bladed knife was used.

The lawn needs to be laid staggered just like you do with laying bricks so you don't end up with a run of lines - staggering helps it look natural and the grass will grow over the lines and pretty soon you won't see the joins.

Once all the lawn was laid and any patches filled the lawn needs to be compacted to help it adhere to the soil and grow and it also helps to flatten and level the ground and to fill any gaps. 

A quick trip to Bunnings and Mr P hired a compactor for $45 (for up to 4 hours hire although we only needed it for 1 hour).

I was inside making everyone lunch at this point and avoiding the loud vibrating compacting noise so I don't have any photos of the compactor in action sorry!

When we were finished on came the new sprinklers to give the lawn a good water in.

You need to water new lawn twice a day and with Perth's water restrictions we're only allowed to water twice a week! So we applied online with the Water Corporation for a permit for new lawn and they approved it instantly for one month so we can water twice a day and there was no cost for this either.

It's a good idea to get a permit if you are trying to establish a new lawn or garden (especially as you don't want to be fined for watering when you're not meant to be!).

We had just 2 rolls of lawn leftover and some guy driving past pulled into the driveway and asked if he could take them ... I thought he may have offered a 6 pack of beer or bottle of wine but he just took them! Oh well love thy neighbor and all that!!

After years of having a sandy heap at the front of our house it is so nice to see a green patch of lawn. 

Beware if anyone tries to park their car on it over the next few weeks they'll be in trouble!

Sharing with link parties:
Curly Crafty Mom - The Creative Corner
The Dedicated House - Before And After Wednesday - Featured in the round up view it here
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays

The Plumbette - Home Improvement Thursdays

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