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Friday, April 24, 2015

Recipe: Steamed Fish With Chinese Vegetables

Whenever I pull out canned tuna or salmon Mr P thinks he's being punished and made to eat cat food! So I've been cooking with fresh fish more in the effort to encourage us add more fish to our diet.

I like to cook fish in different ways so it doesn't feel like it's the same fish dinner every week - while I love a spicy fish curry and beer battered fish and chips, I've discovered that it's much healthier to steam fish.

This recipe for Steamed Fish With Chinese Vegetables is delicious, the vegetables are steamed too so there's less washing up and less cooking time too which makes it perfect for a quick and easy mid week meal.


Steamed Fish With Chinese Vegetables

Fish and Vegetables
4 x fresh fish fillets (we used trout)
Spring onions, sliced
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced
Fresh coriander, leaves picked and stems chopped
Bok choy, chopped
Button mushrooms, quartered
Steamed rice to serve

Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbs ginger, grated
1/4 cup kecap manis
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup water

Method

1. Boil a pot of water slightly smaller than the steamer basket so the basket will sit on top.

2. Line a steamer basket with baking paper, top with fish and on top of the fish add the chilli, spring onions, coriander stems, bok choy and mushrooms and place the lid on.

3. When the water is simmering place basket on top for 5-7 minutes or until fish is cooked, the flesh will turn white and flake easily.

4. Meanwhile, in another smaller pot heat the sauce ingredients. Simmer on low for 5 minutes or until fragrant and slightly reduced, stirring occassionally.

5. Fill each serving bowl with rice, top with the fish and pour over the hot sauce, top with extra coriander leaves and spring onions.

The steaming baskets look so pretty you could almost get away with serving them on the dinner table like that with some steamed rice on the side. 


This is a healthy and easy meal that can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

How do you cook fish at home? I could do with some more fish recipes!


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Granny Flat - Cleared And Ready For Removal

Now that we have approval to subdivide our block our next project is to remove our Granny Flat.

But firstly, we needed to clear and empty it of all that we store inside it, which is a lot because it's like a small 1 bedroom house!

I'm really going to miss our Granny Flat which has saved us throughout our renovations acting as a storage shed, party overflow with beer fridge and music, and the laundry and bathroom helped us when we were renovating ours.

That's the Granny Flat on the left and our house is in front

A better view of the Granny Flat, don't mind Lexi the backyard destroyer's sandpit!

The big question is where to put everything? 

The answer ..... in our garage!

We found some heavy duty shelving units in Bunnings that fit perfectly so we could squeeze in as much storage space as possible.

We assembled two of these bad boys side by side and then over the Easter break we went to work unpacking everything from the Granny Flat and moving it into the Garage.

You couldn't get a more perfect fit if they were custom made!

All the shelves are adjustable too so can be altered to fit whatever goes on them

Everything neat and tidy and easy to get at too

So ..... we like to paint ..... a lot!

Now no screams please, the befores aren't too pretty, in the Granny Flat's living area there was a foxtel port and an air conditioner oh lala fancy!

This was my room where I stored the overflow for the kitchen, camping gear, Christmas decorations, furniture, you name it, it was here!

The kitchen overflow, even with a renovated kitchen I need more space!

My kitchen overflow now fits neatly on this small shelving unit in the garage

Both the bedroom area and kitchenette was Mr P's domain for all his stuff. This shelving rack was a great spot for all the cans, tubes, bottles and bits and pieces. In the cupboard we kept all our gardening supplies and in the drawers spare cables and fittings.

It was really handy to have the sink there as well for washing out paint brushes and dirty working hands.

Kitchenette used for storage - before

Can't say I would cook a meal here but it's empty and ready for something!

Whatever didn't fit in the garage storage is being sold on Gumtree, given to friends, or thrown away. A skip bin has been ordered for a further purge later this month.

I have artworks that I love but they just don't fit on the walls in the house, in my next house I want to have an entire wall with artworks of different shapes and sizes like an art gallery. These are now taking up precious space in my study/craft room until I can find a new home for them!

Art that needs to find a home!
Lexi is never far from the action supervising and getting under our feet!

Now that the Granny Flat is completely empty we will organise for it to be removed with a big truck and crane. The person taking it isn't charging us as they are getting the Granny Flat for free, that's what you call payment in kind!

Now for a final goodbye and tour of the now empty Granny Flat ....

The bathroom

The bedroom with ensuite
The kitchenette
The living area
Back to the start, here's the front door, thanks for the tour!

So now that the Granny Flat is empty our next project is to dismantle the Patio which is attached to the Granny Flat.

Once the Patio is pulled down then we can have the Granny Flat taken away and someone may give it a new lease of life and turn it into their studio or teenagers retreat!

We are making progress slowly but surely and it does feel good to have a clean up and clear out too!

When was the last time you had a good clear out?


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Monday, April 20, 2015

Book Review: The Contract by Avril Tremayne

This is a book review of The Contract by Avril Trematyne that was recently published by Random House Australia on 1 April 2015.

Avril lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and daughter and loves to write sexy, modern romance novels, with a twist and a kick.


This is a fun and sexy romance story of Lane a 23 year old redhead who is unlucky in love and inexperienced in the bedroom and seeks the services of a man to teach her the art of seduction. Lane signs up her best friend's brother Adam to be her teacher. Then the fun begins!

This story starts similar to Fifty Shades Of Grey in regards to signing a contract for sex, but that's where the similarities end between these 2 books. This book was really entertaining, funny and well written.

Lane and Adam fall for each other but neither will admit it. I loved the fast paced sexy goings on in the book, but towards the end I was wondering how much longer I could stand them being in love and not admitting it. I'm glad it was quite a short book as the story didn't evolve much from the two characters and the contract.

This book also contains the best line I have ever read in a book ..... "She'd embarrassed herself enough for one night, oozing at him like an overripe Camembert cheese". Being a cheese lover I found this absolutely hilarious! 

I recommend this book to chick lit fans that like their romance with some hot and steamy loving thrown in and for men who'd like to learn a thing or two about seducing a woman!


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 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 pass up the last tim tam for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read


The Contract can be purchased direct from the author here or Random House Australia


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 Random House Australia to review. As always, all opinions are my own.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Honeymoon Destinations In The USA

I have been busy making plans for our honeymoon later this year which Mr P and I agreed, even before our wedding venue was booked, that the USA would be our honeymoon destination.

In fact I've been planning the honeymoon when I should be planning the wedding which is only 5 months away now, but I know once I have all the flights and hotels booked in I'll be able to relax and look forward to it. I'm already thinking about what to pack in my suitcase that's how excited I am!


Now the big decision is where in the USA ?


There are so many amazing towns to visit but the size of the country and the 3 weeks travel time we have means we really had to be selective and pick our top 6 places in the USA.

Here's our shortlist ..... I'd love to know what you think !

New York

The city that never sleeps, the romance of Central Park, the skyline that's so big my eyes won't be able to comprehend, the landmarks that have featured in so many movies, and the food - places we've seen on Man Vs Food we want to check out, so many food trucks so little time, awesome roof top bars with views to die for. I would be eating every 10 minutes and still not taste all there is to savour in NYC!

I am so excited to be staying in New York and can't wait to hit the bright lights of NEW YORK NEWWW YORKKK!!


Louisville, Kentucky

Louisville is Mr P's pick, for us to drink our way along the Bourbon trail and visit the distillery's like Jim Beam and Makers Mark. This is also a great opportunity to get out of the city and take in the beautiful countryside and the southern hospitality.

A trip here won't be complete without a steamboat cruise down the Mississippi River.


New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans the big easy was not on my list initially but so many people have told me what a fun place it is so we are heading to Bourbon Street for some soul food and jazz music and to see all that this historic town has to offer.

It has been 9 years since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina passed through New Orleans and I'm sure they need the tourism and for people to feel safe to visit here again.


Las Vegas, Nevada

We're going to Las Vegas baby! Oh yea party time!! Yes I know it's a party town and maybe not the ideal honeymoon destination but Mr P and I already committed to a holiday here with friends so we are sticking to the plan and spending a few nights here in the middle of our trip.

On the to do list is to take a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon, check out the beautiful Bellagio fountain and to visit my favourite artist Michael Godart's art gallery.


San Francisco, California

I've been to San Francisco 15 years ago just for a day and we sailed past the golden gate bridge on the Oriana cruise ship, this time I'd like to walk or ride across it!

I'd also love to go to a baseball game here at AT&T Park and take a tour around Alcatraz.


Los Angeles, California

The City of Angels, has been written about in some of my favourite books and it's on my bucket list to see the Hollywood sign and drive on the streets of Beverly Hills in this famous tinsel town.

Some people think that Los Angeles has lost its sparkle but I know I'd regret flying all that way and not stopping off for a few days.


So that's what we have on the itinerary so far.

I've been on Trip Advisor looking into hotels and tours and plan to organise and book everything in the next few weeks.

I'd love some advice from anyone whose been to these places or my lovely US readers .....

Any favourite restaurants or must see places that you recommend for a couple of loved up Aussie's?


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Monday, April 13, 2015

Book Club Book Review: The Wedding By Nicholas Sparks

The Book Club pick for the month of April was The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks.

Three of us Book Club girls (yes me included!) are getting married this year so this book was chosen with that in mind!


The Wedding makes reference to the popular romance The Notebook also written by Nicholas Sparks and this is a follow on to it with the characters of The Notebook now elderly in this book The Wedding. Although you don't need to read or watch The Notebook (I haven't!) to understand this book.

This is a story told by Wilson who is married to Jane, both in their 50s, and looking to put the spark back in their marriage after Wilson forgets their 29th wedding anniversary. Fearing Jane doesn't love him anymore Wilson spends the next year plotting and planning to prove to his wife just how much he loves her.

When their daughter announces that she's engaged to be married, the story settles in to revolve around the wedding plans and Wilson trying to save his marriage.

There were some good bits, it was well written and easy to read, the mushy parts did make me feel all warm and fuzzy and I felt compassion for the characters.

I really wanted to like this story more but it was kind of boring, it wasn't engaging, there was no thrill, no suspense, no excitement, just day to day normality's.

I didn't believe that after 30 years someone would suddenly want to start acting like a different person and change who they are in a relationship. Wilson wants to put the spark back in his marriage but it seemed pretty obvious that there was never a spark there to begin with!

I recommend this book to old school romantics and Nicholas Sparks fans.


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 pass up the last tim tam for this read
5 Great - I'd pass up a date with Johnny Depp for this read


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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Organising The Pantry With Avery Labels


I recently organised my herbs and spices using some Avery labels and have been wanting to try out their other home organising products and labels around the house.

Next on the to do list was to organise the pantry and for this I used Avery's arched organisation labels and printed them using the design and print online section of the website.


Here's a sneak peak of how they turned out oh la la  ...... I know pretty fancy aren't they!


To start with I pulled all the jars and containers out of the pantry and wrote a list of all the names I needed for the labels.

I did a shelf at a time and gave all the shelves a good wipe clean and threw out anything past the used by date, thankfully there wasn't anything too scary in there as we have only been in the renovated kitchen for 2.5 years.


I made a note of the jars I needed to replace like the large glass jars, although I love them because they're recycled coffee jars, unfortunately they are just too big for the new pantry.

After months of stalking the supermarket shelves until the plastic containers were on special, I finally got them at half price and stocked up on a few different sizes, peeled the labels off, washed and dried them, and they were ready to use.


Once I had my list of names for the labels I typed them into an excel spreadsheet and then went to the design and print online section of the Avery website.

I entered in the product code for the arched labels and all the templates came up, I picked the design I liked and then uploaded the spreadsheet file which did a mail merge of all the labels. It took mere seconds which saved heaps of time compared to having to individually type them all in!


Once the labels are ready to print, it will convert to a PDF to print out which is another chance to check everything is spelt properly and fits on the labels. I did a test run by printing on some blank paper before putting the labels in the colour printer for the final print out.

It only took about 20 minutes to design and print off these 30 labels which was pretty impressive.


Next I removed all the old mix matched labels from my jars and containers and replaced them with the new personalised labels.

I love how the labels look and it's so much easier to see what's there.


I'm feeling very much the domestic goddess now when I look into the pantry!

I even got ohhhs and ahhhs from my parents when I opened the pantry the other day, I bet they wish I was blogging when I lived at home so I could test out these cool products in their pantry!


I thought it would be quite fiddly to print out individual labels but it was a really quick project and for the personalised look it's definitely worth it.

I'm really happy with how it looks all neat and tidy, I wish I'd organised the pantry like this a long time ago!

How do you keep your pantry organised?


Disclosure: Thanks to Avery for providing me with these labels for review. I have not received any payment or compensation. As always, all opinions are my own.


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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We Have Subdivision Approval .... With Conditions

Our plans to subdivide our block were approved by the WA Planning Commission recently which was cause for a celebratory dinner a bottle of bubbly and smiles all round in the Jarrah Jungle!

When we purchased our home we knew we wanted to renovate the front house and then subdivide the back block but we were never completely sure that we would get the approval to do so.

We now have the approval in writing and it's such a relief and weight off our shoulders knowing the chance we took as first time home renovators has paid off!


We have a surveyor helping us with the subdivision process so once we received the approval we met with them and they took us through the 11 conditions set by the WAPC.

We are now clear on exactly what we have to do, some of which Mr P and I will do and some the surveyor will take care of.

Most of the conditions are pretty straight forward and achievable although if we want them to reconsider any of the conditions we aren't happy with we have 28 days to lodge a reconsideration.

Thankfully the issues we thought they'd have with our eaves, roof and width of the driveway were not a problem at all - they have approved all of those thank goodness!


What we now need to do is clear the block and get it ready for subdivision.

Starting with getting the tree loppers in to remove a very large ghost gum tree and remove the roots and grind the stump.

We need to dig up all the garden beds and remove the brick retaining around them, not that there is much of a garden left since Lexi the backyard destroyer turned our vegetable and herb gardens into a playground!

We'll dig up any plants that we want to save and transplant them elsewhere.


The other massive job is to remove the Granny Flat.

We have been using the Granny Flat as a garden shed, for storage of furniture and anything that didn't fit into the house. It came in so handy while renovating the house, we used the granny flat shower and toilet when we renovated our bathroom and powder room and when we did the laundry we relocated the washing machine here, it really has been a lifesaver.

If we weren't subdividing we would keep it as I think Granny Flats are becoming quite sought after for large families or elderly parents to use, or you could even rent it out as it's self contained with a kitchenette and bathroom. Ours is pretty old but it did have air conditioning and a foxtel port so it was probably pretty fancy in it's day!

We offered to give the Granny Flat to friends but the cost of removing and transporting it was in the thousands $$$$ so we have instead found a crane/truck driver who is going to take it away for us and in lieu of his services he'll keep it to sell or whatever he wants to do with it.


The big ole rusty Patio also needs to come down.

We've had so many awesome times under that patio, dinner parties, BBQs, late night parties, we even hosted our first Christmas under it. We are going to miss having such a big entertaining space but we have years of happy memories to remember it by!

We are going to ask some friends to help us dismantle the patio, pull all the sheet metal off the roof, remove the massive steel beams, and take all the rubble away.

We also need to knock out the brick retaining walls around the patio and pull down out makeshift screen fence.


Once the Granny Flat and Patio are removed we will pull up and remove all the pavers from under the patio and we are giving those to a friend.

Once the pavers are up we need to remove our concrete septic tanks which unfortunately for us we filled with sand and rubble and all sorts after we decommissioned them as they are not in use anymore.

They are extremely heavy and we'll need some machinery to dig those up and remove them.

The reason they need to be removed is that they can cause the ground to sink and with someone building a house there we can't have that happen so they need to be removed.


We also need to have the power and water supply connected which we have started to fill in the paperwork for.

So that's where we are at now, over the next few weekends we'll be demolishing and clearing the block to meet the conditions and get the subdivision moving along.

I will keep you updated on the blog here and you can also see our projects as they happen on my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!


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