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Friday, October 24, 2014

Getting Ready To Render - The Back Of The House

When it comes to getting the biggest bang for our buck when renovating - rendering the ugly old 1960s bricks at the front of the house wins hands down.
 
The render instantly lifted the house and makes it look modern and it hides our brick garage extension we built on and looking at the house now you would think it had been built like that, not an add on.

Before any renovations
 
After - Render, new roof and garage extension

Cost wise to render the front of our house was less than $2,500 - this was for the render's labour (which we got at mates rates because he's a friend). It also includes the sand, lime and cement which we provided and hiring a scaffold which we organised to keep costs down further.
 
Mr P also helped out the renderer where he could, more hands make light work as they say! I also did my part and supplied lunch and cold drinks because if you keep your tradies happy while they're working they are going to do a fantastic job!
 
Our master of rendering hard at work!
 
Now that we have almost finished renovating the inside of the house (the laundry/powder room is almost done!) and any modifications that would have affected the brickwork have been done, like when we cut out the dining room window and turned it into a doorway - we are now ready to render.

We also need to render before we build a deck out here, which will run the length of the back from the laundry door across to the french doors. Another reason we are keen to get this done is because sitting on the deck with a glass of wine in hand has been a dream for about 5 years now since the very day we moved in!
 
Back of the house - With dining room window
 
Window turned into a door way with french doors
 
To render the walls we need to remove anything attached to them, this includes the sides and roof of the rickety old wooden bridge that goes from the laundry to the Granny Flat. We can't rip the whole bridge down because it's the only way to get into the Granny Flat which is set up high off the ground.
 
The new down pipes will also need to be removed and then replaced when finished.

We will also cut off the brick window ledges so that the render is sleek and smooth around all the windows that will then sit flush against the brick work, this also makes it much easier for the renderer.

We might try to paint all the new eaves while we have the scaffold hired as well, as that job has been put off for a few years now .... Can you imagine painting the underside of the eaves along the entire house? It's going to take forever!
 
The bridge from the laundry into the Granny Flat
The brick ledges around the windows will be cut off
 
We have booked in our renderer for late November to render the back of the house and I can't wait to see how it will look when it's all finished.
 
I will keep you posted with lots of juicy before and afters throughout the project. The best way to see our renovations as they happen is to follow Jarrah Jungle on Facebook and Instagram.

What do you think of render Vs exposed brick?


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Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Last Minute Cruise Holiday - On Carnival Legend!

Well, I just couldn't help myself and a weekend away with the girls and a trip to Sydney for work didn't completely satisfy my travel bug so I've booked a last minute cruise holiday that departs in just 14 sleeps!

Hooray 14 sleeps!!!!

Last year I went on a family cruise holiday onboard Royal Caribbean's Voyager Of The Seas with three generations of my family my Nanna, parents, aunt and uncle and Mr P.

This time around I'm going with my parents and Mr P - just the four of us and my parents are still very young at heart so I think there will be many late nights shaking our groove thang at the nightclubs or winning in the casino!


This will be us - pass me a cocktail!
 
We found a fantastic last minute deal that was too good to resist with bonus onboard credit yes please!

The cruise is a fairly short one 8 nights so we don't have to take too much time off work or be away from our furbaby Lexi too long, although our dog sitter/house sitter absolutely spoils her rotten so she probably won't miss us at all!


Our cruise ship - The Carnival Legend

We are cruising on the Carnival cruise line which moved to Aussie waters in September and will now call Sydney, Australia home. Our ship is the Carnival Legend which has had an "Aussiefication" to suit the Aussie's taste of food and wine so it'll be interesting to see what it's like onboard.

The cruise leaves from Sydney and goes to the South Pacific Islands Mare, Loyalty Islands and Noumea in New Caledonia. I've been to Loyalty Islands and Noumea before on the Pacific Jewel and the Voyager of the Seas cruise and they are the perfect places to relax, kick back and have a tropical holiday.

Mare - New Caledonia


Loyalty Islands - Lifou


Noumea - New Caledonia

Now my readers will know by now that I absolutely love cruise holidays and I'm really looking forward to a break from the renovating and my office job and to get away from it all.

I can't wait to walk the plank and board the Carnival Legend!

 
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[All images via Carnival]


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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Recipe: Slow Cooked Artichokes Stuffed With Garlic Anchovy Crumbs

I've always been a bit intimidated by whole artichokes and have only ever eaten the jar variety on pizzas and antipasto platters. So when I saw them in season at the veggie store for only 50 cents and people were walking away with an arm full of them I figured I better see what the fuss is about and try them for myself.
 
 
Turning to my trusty Australian Women's Weekly Slow Cooking Recipe Book I slow cooked the artichokes and then stuffed them and put them in the oven until golden. I changed the recipe by adding more flavour to the stock they cooked in and stuffing them rather than serving the crumb on the side.

This is my altered version of the recipe .... the artichokes were delicately flavoured and the crumb added a delicious flavour and texture.

 
Slow Cooked Artichokes Stuffed With Garlic Anchovy Crumbs
Serves 6
 
Slow cooker
6 artichokes
8 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs lemon juice
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, bruised
 
Stuffing
Olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
6 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
1 tbs lemon rind, finely grated
1/2 cup Romano cheese, finely grated
1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
Cracked Pepper
 
Method
 
1. Remove and discard tough outer leaves from artichokes. Trim stem so the bases sit flat. Remove and discard hairy choke from centre. Rinse under cold water.
 
2. Place artichokes upside down and tightly pack into a slow cooker (I used ramekins to hold in place). Pour in the water, chicken stock and lemon juice and add garlic and bay leaf. Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours.
 
3. Remove artichokes with a slotted spoon and allow to drain. Leave to cool so you can stuff them.
 
4. Make stuffing by heating olive oil in a frying pan and add garlic and anchovies stirring until anchovy softens. Add breadcrumbs and lemon rind and cook until crumbs are browned lightly and crisp. Remove from heat and add Romano cheese, parsley and season to taste with cracked pepper (I didn't add salt as the anchovies were salty enough!).
 
5. Using a teaspoon carefully stuff the artichokes between each layer of leaves and finish by piling stuffing on top. Grate some extra cheese on top.
 
6. Place the artichokes in the oven for about 10 minutes at 170 degrees until golden.
 
7. Drizzle with extra olive oil and serve.
  

These artichokes will make an impressive entree at our next dinner party and have set the theme for an Italian inspired menu!

Linking up with:
Wow us Wednesdays - Savvy Southern Style
Fluster's Creative Muster - Fuster Buster and Curly Crafty Mum


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review And Preview: Seven Letters From Paris: A Memoir By Samantha Verant

This is a book review and preview of Seven Letters From Paris: A Memoir by Samantha Verant that is due to hit book stores on 3 November 2014.

Samantha Verant was born in Los Angeles, USA and now lives in France with her sexy French rock scientist and two step kids. Samantha has written a children's book and this memoir.


This is a memoir written by 40 year old Samantha as she finds herself in a loveless marriage, with no job or money and a pile of debts. Samantha finds seven love letters from a holiday romance in France some 20 years earlier and decides to track down her Frenchman Jean-Luc.

Just like a fairytale Samantha the American Princess and Jean-Luc the French frog find each other again and fall in love and with each page turned you are taken on their whirlwind romance together. Of course this is a real life memoir so there are bumps in the road, it's realistic and relateable and that's what made this such a great read.

This was such a beautiful story full of hope and promise. I really liked their travels through France and back to America, so much history, culture, food and wine, I felt like I was on the adventure them them, albeit a third wheel at times!

I recommend this book to romantics and anyone who is not happy in their relationships, I hope it shows you the light to see that life is too short to be unhappy when you could be living a happy and fulfilling life if only you take a chance.
 
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


Seven Letters From Paris can be purchased from Random House Australia
 
Sharing my book review on Good Reads here and Netgalley

Disclosure:  NetGalley partner with bloggers such as me to help promote their book and I was given this eBook published by Random House Australia, Bantum Australia to review. As always, all opinions are my own.

 
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[Image via Random House Australia]
 
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Monday, October 13, 2014

Signing Off + Heading To Sydney

I'm signing off the blog for a few days because I'm flying out to Sydney for a work conference today.
 
I feel really invigorated doing personal development and the plan is to fill my brain with lots of juicy information and suck up all the knowledge I can - I don't think you should ever stop learning!
 
View from Quay Restaurant where we dined earlier this year
 
I always look forward to an interstate getaway to escape from Perth for a few days. After the 4-5 hour flight  it's so  nice to have a hotel room all to myself, 24 hour room service, a hot bubble bath, and no house work to do!

I'm staying in Darling Harbour which is the perfect place to walk around and check out the cafes along the water. I'm hoping for some sunny warm weather ..... c'mon Spring do your thing!
 

I will see you back here on the blog Friday, I hope you have a wonderful week!

You can keep up with my Sydney adventures on the Jarrah Jungle Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

What are your plans for this week?
 

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Club Book Review: Divergent By Veronica Roth

The book club read for the month of September was Divergent by Veronica Roth
 
I nearly didn't get to read this book because it's so popular (probably because it's been made into a movie which was in cinemas when we were reading the book) and a month on and I'm still waiting for the book which I reserved from the library! Luckily my Book Club buddie lent me her copy so I could read it before the book club meet up - you don't want to go to book club without reading the book you feel like the naughty kid in class who didn't finish your homework!
 
 
Divergent is a story about an American community which is formed and separated into 5 factions. The factions are determined by your characteristics in an attempt to create a perfect society. When you turn 16 years old you get to choose the faction you want to belong in, but this also means leaving your family and friends behind.
 
The main character Beattrice (Tris) makes the decision to leave her family's faction and join another. Tris is inducted into her new faction, she makes friends and enemies, there's fights and dares to build up her strength and courage, and her journey of self discovery as she works out who she is and where she belongs.
 
I liked all the characters, even the bullies, I thought they were portrayed brilliantly. The romance between Tris and Four was pretty saucy and added a lot of interest too.
 
I really enjoyed this book, ok I kind of loved it and finished it in just 4 days! The story line was so interesting I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what was going to happen - whether Tris would make it into her faction and more importantly whether Tris and Four would end up together!
 
This book is the first of three in the series and so the story ends in a way that leaves you hanging to find out what will happen next. That's the downside of a trilogy, you need to keep on reading all the books to get closure.
 
I recommend this book to sci-fi and fantasy readers and to young adults. It's a trilogy so be warned you may be drawn in to read the rest of them!
 
I give this book 5 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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Friday, October 10, 2014

Kitchen Renovation - Budget Vs What It Actually Cost

I've realised in all the excitement of finishing the kitchen and dining room renovation last year that I didn't end up doing a final cost breakdown of this room and thought you guys might be interested to know what a kitchen renovation costs.
 
 
We installed a custom made quality kitchen with all cabinetry having soft closing doors and drawers and granite bench tops.

We also choose top brand appliances, although our only regret is we didn't pay the extra for the pyrolytic oven if we did it again we would so that the oven cleans itself!
 

My favourite feature in the kitchen is the bin drawer which is a huge double bin in a drawer that pulls out in one movement and then you close it and it's hidden away so nobody knows it's there - it cost $500 extra but it is worth every cent.
 
My other favourite thing is the pull out caddy under the sink for bottles and sprays etc, we liked it so much we installed one in our laundry renovation as well.
 
 
The reason we are renovating our home is to make it more livable and comfortable for us and also to increase the value of the property for when it comes time to sell it. We have not renovated this home just to sell it, if we did our budget would be a lot less so our profits would be higher.
 
Where we saved money was to do as much of the labour and DIY as we can ourselves and this enabled us to afford all the bells and whistles.
 
 
We stuck to the rule that you should not spend more than 5% of the purchase price on a kitchen renovation - our budget was $25,000 and we spent $22,526.25.
 
Kitchen cost breakdown:
Quote 1 Pro Form - Design fee $100
Quote 2 QN Designs - kitchen cabinets, granite benchtop, handles, installed  $14,000
QN Designs - Extras after quote double bin drawer  $500
QN Designs - Extras after quote bench top modification  $200
New ceiling installed, materials and labour  $1,000
Electrician, Nextec Electrical  $1011.45
Pendant light, Beacon Lighting  $129
LED spotlights (4), Beacon Lighting $219.80
Clark Sink single bowl, Bunnings $169
Oliver Kitchen tap mixer, Tradelink  $140
Splash back in frosted ice installed, WA Glasskote  $1500
Electrolux 4 gas burner cook top EHGC64AS, Kambos  $1049
Electrolux 12 function oven EOEE63CS, Kambos  $1,527
Euromaid glass canopy rangehood CG9BL, Harvey Norman  $350
LG 14 place dishwasher LD1452WFEN2, The Good Guys  $631
Total: $22,526.25
 
What isn't included in this budget because I keep it as a separate budget item is the cost of paint, new doors and handles, plumber and furniture.

I have a spreadsheet with a budget for all our renovations and projects - It's essential for keeping track of our expenses so we can rein them in when we need to, spend more on some rooms and make savings in others.

 
You can see our bathroom renovation budget break down here - we set ourselves a budget of $10,000 and it came in at $8,865.60.

The laundry renovation budget was $5,000 and so far we have spent just over $3,000 so there's a bit of a saving there as well which is great.

How do you manage the cost of renovating or projects around the home ...... Spreadsheets, lists, or something else?
 
 
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