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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Years Of Jarrah Jungle Renovations

 
I can't believe it's now been 5 years that Mr P and I moved into our very first home together. The shock of living with a man for the first time and the amount of socks I had to wash was one thing, but the love and passion I would have for renovating and decorating our home was really something that took me by surprise!
 
Thus, the Jarrah Jungle blog was born and it brings me so much happiness to share my home love with you guys.
 
If I don't say it enough then I'm saying it again .... THANK YOU for coming on this journey with me and showing your support to my blog both here and on Facebook and Instagram I really do appreciate your interest and advice so THANK YOU!
 
 
Last year I wrote a complete list of our projects big and small that we've crossed off our to do list in the Jarrah Jungle renovations.
 
Since that time over the last 12 months we have:

 
Sometimes I feel disheartened that our projects take longer than planned but because we try to do most of the work ourselves, and work full time jobs, it means our only free time on the weekends is divided between: Having a life - catching up with friends and family - and renovating at home. It has to be an even divide otherwise we will go CRAZY!!

Looking back on all the work we've done so far I'm so proud of what we've achieved with our 5 year plan and we are determined to finish this house hopefully by mid next year.

Then I want to sit back and enjoy the house and all that we've done! The home improvments have made is so much more comfortable and practical to live in, I want to have lots of parties and show it off to friends and family who have been so patient and positive in helping us through our first home renovation.


So what is next on the to do list ..... Well, in the next 12 months we want to: 
  • Finish the laundry and toilet renovation
  • Finish hanging all new internal and external doors and handles throughout 
  • Install timber slats and a gate on the limestone courtyard out the front of the house
  • Landscape the front of the house and the courtyard
  • Measure our backyard and block and start the subdivision process of splitting our block in two
  • Make a decision on whether to sell the back block of land or to build a new home on it
  • Remove the old rusty patio and build a smaller one
  • Remove our old granny flat
  • Build a timber deck leading off the dining room french doors
  • Install new fences around our block


I am really excited about us almost finishing the renovations for the entire inside of the house and now we can turn our attention to finishing off the outside.
 
We have made the big decision to subdivide our block too (pending Council approval!) and we plan to live in our renovated Jarrah Jungle home at the front of the block and either build a new house at the back or sell the land as is. Up until last year I wanted to sell the block of land but now I've changed my mind and would love to experience building a house - I might have to start a new blog about it!

You can check out my previous posts on the very first year here and last year's here

What will the next 12 months hold for the Jarrah Jungle renovations? I can't wait to find out!


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Year-Round Slow Cooker By Dina Cheney

This is a book review of Year-Round Slow Cooker by Dina Cheney

Dina Cheney is a working mum to two young children, a cooking teacher, author of three cookbooks and has written magazine columns for 20 other publications. Dina lives in New York.


As most of you know I'm a Slow Cooker Queen! I love to use my slow cooker, especially in the cooler months there's nothing like a comforting warm meal on a cold winter night. Although I've tried to use my slow cooker at other times of the year, I've struggled to find recipes that are suitable to the not so cold seasons of the year.

Well that's where this cookbook comes into play - Year-Round Slow Cooker has answered my prayers with 100 delicious recipes to make in the slow cooker. The recipes are divided into seasons, with 25 recipes to make for each season.

No longer will I be making just casseroles and soups in the slow cooker, but being a bit more adventurous and trying: Indian Style cauliflower, potato and parsley root curry; Braised pork shoulder soft tacos with watermelon-tomato salsa; Sticky toffee pudding with cranberries to name a few!

I love that the recipes are based around fresh ingredients that are easy to come by at that time of year and there's also some alternatives to the ingredients which I found useful being that this book is published in America and you can't find all the ingredients here in Australia. There are also practical tips throughout like what ingredients to keep stocked in the pantry, converting recipes to the oven or stove, and how to make your meal more flavoursome and less watery.

The recipes are modern and suited to the home cook who likes to impress. The recipes are a bit more involved than your usual slow cooker meals, but this is to create more flavourful meals. This is a cookbook I'd use on the weekends when I have more time for preparation.

I recommend this cookbook to home cooks that want to create modern and impressive meals in their slow cooker.

I give this book 4 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 re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

Year-Round Slow Cooker can be purchased from Taunton Store
 
Sharing my book review on Good Reads here

Disclosure:  Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this eBook published by Taunton Press to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

 
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[Image via Taunton Store]


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Book Review and Preview: Vegetarian Dinner Parties By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

This is a book review and preview of Vegetarian Dinner Parties: 150 Meatless Meals Good Enough To Serve To Company by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough that was recently published on 8 September 2014.

Bruce and Mark are food writers and omnivores and the creators behind the Ultimate Cookbook series and have written 22 cook books. They live in Colebrook, Connecticut in the USA.

 
I love entertaining at home and hosting dinner parties and have cooked for vegetarian friends quite a few times but I find it difficult to pick a stand out amazing meal for my vegetable lovers because I don't want it to be plain and boring - I want their meal to be full of flavour and delicious.

This cookbook Vegetarian Dinner Parties is just what I need on the bookcase at home (although technically speaking I have it on my computer not the bookshelf!). It is packed full of modern vegetarian and vegan recipes all made with ingredients found seasonally.

The book is divided into sections - starting with welcome cocktails and working through the courses hors dóeuvres, starters, soup, salads, pasta, mains and desserts. The recipes can be made on their own or as part of a three course dinner. Each recipe also pairs a beverage to the dish, which I loved.

The recipes are for an experienced home cook, as I found there were only a few basic and easy recipes. Each recipe has a plan ahead section which is useful - I'll always make ahead what I can so it leaves more time to socialise and be a host on the night!

I would have scored this book higher if there were more images. I really needed to see the finished dish and also how to plate up, presentation is such an important part of a dinner party and I was disappointed there weren't images of each dish.

Also, I didn't have a hardcopy of the book and because of the images and recipes I couldn't download it to my Kindle eReader either I had to download it to my computer to read from which I found difficult. I would get much more use out of this book in hardcopy.

I recommend this cookbook to experienced home cooks who love to entertain and cook vegetarian and vegan food.

I give this book 3 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 re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not amazing but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read

Vegetarian Dinner Parties can be purchased from Amazon

Sharing my book review on Good Reads here

Disclosure: Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced readers book of this eBook published by Rodale Books to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

 
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[Image via Rodale Books]


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Monday, September 8, 2014

Jarrah Jungle - A Tour Through Blogland

I have been invited on a tour through blogland by the lovely Carrie of Curly Crafty Mom
 
Carrie and I have been bloggy buddies for a long time now, ever since I came across her delicious menu planning posts. I always get inspiration from her home DIY and craft projects and love reading about her outings with her two kids and hubby. Be sure to stop by Carrie's blog and say hi!
 
Carrie has given me some questions to answer so here goes .....
 
1) What am I working on?
 
Laundry and Powder Room Renovation
 
There’s always a project around the house that I’m working on …. Painting, decorating or making sandwiches for Mr P while he does the hard work!
 
Right now I’m 8 weeks into a laundry and powder room renovation which we completely gutted, ripped everything out and started all over again. Our dream of converting our toilet into a powder room has finally come to fruition which is what I love about renovating – having a vision and then seeing it come to life! 
 
Still to do in this room is - paint, wallpaper, hang new doors, install shelves in the cupboard, new lights and power!
 
2) How does my work differ from others in the DIY/Decorating genre?
 
Painting stripes project on entrance wall
 
I had many questions I couldn’t find the answers to about renovating an Australian double brick and tile home. So 4 years ago I started my blog to share the experiences of our home improvement projects, the products used and businesses found, in the hope like minded home lovers can learn from our experiences.
 
Mr P and I are doing up our home on a budget and tackling most of the work ourselves, as first timers we are working it out as we go and I've learnt so much about renovating along the way and figure if I can get my office hands dirty - anyone can!
 
3) Why do I write what I do?
 
Australian themed dinner party
 
I want to share what I've learnt and the experiences and misadventures of doing up my house and turning it into a home. I want readers to see that anyone can turn a house into a home, you don't need to have a lot of money just a love and passion for it!
 
Sometimes I forget how far we’ve come or get disheartened when a project is taking too long but when I look back through my blog on all we’ve accomplished over the years I feel really proud of what we’ve achieved.
 
4) How does your writing/creating process work?
 
Backyard makeover and patio pimping
 
I blog in the evenings after work and write about 4 posts a week and give myself the weekends off!

If I'm in the middle of a project I"ll share update posts throughout the process as well as a before and after at the end. If I try a new recipe or throw a dinner party I'll make sure I take lots of photos so I can share with my readers too. I also love to read and review books on the blog every week, of books I read for my book club The Tuesday Girls and that I review for NetGalley.
 
I love to be organised and keep a calender of my blog posts so I can schedule them consistently, I have an ongoing list of ideas I add to whenever a blog post idea comes into head, and I have an even longer list of draft blog posts to be finished! I also proof read a zillion times before I hit the publish button, having a secretary background I'm very careful about my grammar and formatting!
 
Thank you for having me on this blog tour Carrie and thanks for reading everyone!
 
Now I get to nominate 2 other bloggers to continue the Tour Through Blogland and they'll be sharing their blog tour on their blogs next Monday so be sure to pop by and say hello .... Without further ado I introduce these fabulous home loving bloggers .....
 
 
I'm Natalie, renovator of a 1960's weatherboard home in Melbourne, which I document on my blog. My partner and I have been renovating for 5 years, so clearly we're not in a rush to get this place done, but we're almost at the finish line. I'm always thinking of something to do or change around the house or looking for a DIY project. I like colour but apparently not living with it, as most of my home is black and white...and grey. I'm a TV and magazine addict and servant to 2 cats.
 
 
Hi, I'm Megan from Silver Threads of Happiness. I began my blog as a way to connect with like minded people; people who are a bit crafty. If I'm creating I'm happy, whether it be doing some crochet or knitting, some embroidery, the very occasional bit of sewing, baking or even creating new resources to use with my students in my day job as an early childhood teacher.

My blog is a little bit of everything mashed into one - craft, baking, life and lately it has been featuring a bit of home improvements as I get ready to move from the city life of Perth, Western Australia to the rural outback of WA, the land of dirt, heat, not much rain and many, many flies.
 
Thanks for coming on this tour through blogland!


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[Images via Curly Crafty Mom, In The Night Sky, and Silver Threads Of Happiness 
All other images my own]

 

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Recipe: Baked Brie With Garlic and Lemon Thyme

I have been obsessed with making baked brie lately, it's a fairly inexpensive and very tasty dish to serve as a starter for a few to share. I first tried it at a friend's MKR French Dinner Party and I was absolutely blown away and now I've made it three times in the last month! 
 
You can use any fresh herbs, this one is with lemon thyme but I've tried with rosemary too and it was delicious. Also, if  you don't like the strong garlic flavour pour boiling water over the clove before you slice it and it won't be as garlicy.
 

Baked Brie With Garlic And Lemon Thyme

Ingredients

Brie - any size
1 sprig lemon thyme - or any fresh herbs
1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
Bread stick
Rosemary
Olive oil
Salt

Method

1. Cut a few slits in the top of the brie with a knife and push in a piece of garlic and sprig of thyme into each alternate slit

2. Place brie on top of baking paper and cut a circle around the paper with a knife. Then wrap the brie in another piece of baking paper.
 

3. Place on an oven tray and bake at 180 degrees for about 15 minutes

4. Remove wrapped paper and leave brie on the round paper, bake uncovered for a further 5 minutes until cheese is melted
 

5. For the croutons, slice a bread stick into even slices and thread a few onto rosemary sticks

6. Lay the rosemary sticks and remaining slices on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil and salt and scatter some rosemary leaves over the top

7. Bake in the oven with the cheese for about 10 minutes or until crunchy


Serve baked brie and croutons on a cheese board with sliced apple, seedless grapes and nuts

So delicious!

Linking up with:
 

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[All images my own]

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goodbye Winter + Hello Spring

I don't know where the year has gone and can't quite believe we are now in September which means we have officially said goodbye to Winter and hello to Spring!
 
 
Goodbye Winter and to rainy days and cold nights spent inside keeping dry and warm by the heater, slow cooked comfort food and endless pots of soup on the stove, wearing uggies, boots and scarves, squeaky windscreen wipers on the car, and trying to dry clothes by hanging them up all around the house!
 
 
Hello Spring and the warm sunshine making an appearance again, the garden comes alive with flowers and the herbs are sprouting, more fresh seasonal foods and salads on the menu at home, the layers of clothing slowly come off, more walking and less driving, more entertaining at home and things to do outdoors.


I'd have to say that Spring is my favourite season of year!
 
What do you love about Spring?


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[All images via my Pinterest - 1, 2, 3]

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Club Book Review: The Silver Linings Play Book By Matthew Quick

The Book Club read for the month of August was The Silver Linings Play Book By Matthew Quick
 
 
This is the story told by 35 year old Pat Peoples who has just been released from a mental hospital and is trying to piece together what has been happening for the last few years to his friends, family and the outside world while he has been in the "bad place".
 
Pat sees his life as being a movie and he's on a mission to have a happy ending with his estranged wife Nikki. The mental anguish that Pat is under and has kept him in hospital for so long all steams from the love he has for Nikki and he does all he can to try to reconcile and get her back.
 
I really enjoyed this book, I liked the writing style and seeing the world from Pat's perspective. All the characters were portrayed perfectly too - from the football loving therapist, to his best mates bossy wife. I couldn't stop reading until I finished which took just a few days, it was that good.
 
I especially liked Pat's vulnerability, the way he felt about himself and life, and was really taken in by his character.
 
There are some great quotes in the book, my favourite was - I'm practising being kind, not right. I love the mentality behind this saying which Pat said to himself often.
 
The reference to books and authors was also great especially as I'd read a few of them so understood what he was talking about like The Catcher In The Rye and The Great Gatsby to name a few.
 
I recommend this book to anyone who liked The Rosie Project or The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.
 
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars
 
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 re-runs of Neighbours than read this again
3 Ok - I'm sitting on the fence - its not great but not terrible either
4 Good - I'd pass up a pack of tim tams for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read


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[Image via Amazon]

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