Loungeroom revamp begins.

We have decided that due to the trouble we are having finding someone to re-block the house that we will commence some decorating and go back and repair once stumps have been fixed. Not ideal we know, but we could be waiting for ever at this rate. There is so much preparation work to be done that it will take a bit of time to complete. Tasks we envisage that need to happen are:

Removing all (well as much as we can) flaking paint

Just a bit of scraping to do!
Then we proceed to the next wall.

All surfaces of walls and ceilings will need to be washed, re-scraped for any more loose paint sealed with a good quality sealer, filled, then seal over that.

Then the hardest part of all, deciding on paint colours and what type of paint to use. Do we go for a less chemically structured paint or a stock standard main stream brand? How do we deal with the timber trim and dado panelling (eventually we may replace the dado with pressed tin/steel) but that can be on the redo list once a few other things are in control. I feel it would be a shame to cover up the beautiful original cedar skirtings, so a delicate balance is needed to both bring light into the room and look good without making the many different components of the room look too busy.

Fireplace- We removed an old gas space heater from the fireplace in the lounge and plan to bring some character back to this. This is one of the few places where modernisation has been attempted, unfortunately covering beautiful old curved edge bricks with everyday bricks painted white is not that effective although probably practical!

One of the first things I bought in readiness for our work is a small mobile scaffolding unit. The idea of up and down the ladder with ceilings so high and imagining how sore the neck would be after painting the ceilings seemed like a good investment. It had its first run through today and passed with flying colours!

Scaffolding put to good use at last!




Windows, paint, electrics and lettuce.

Windows coming unstuck!

We have only been able to open 2 or 3 windows at our ‘new’ old house and even though there are several air pathways under doors, down chimneys and through the timber floors, there is nothing like throwing open the windows and letting a good blast of air in. Luckily there haven’t been too many coats of paint thrown on over the years so they loosened relatively easily. I simply gently hammered a paint scraper in between the window and casement and tapped, did this all the way around and on the exterior until all paint sealing the joints had been broken. I haven’t concentrated on the top section of the sash windows yet, that will evolve!

In the old surgery:


Yay, we have lift up!

Lounge room next!


My new VBF from Moe Paint Spot called in today and the good news is that the surfaces I had thought had been previously coated with calcimine paint aren’t! He also gave me some great tips for cleaning the roof, how to paint the pressed steel ceilings and how to test existing surfaces to see what products we need to use to get the best effect. Nice to know there are still some businesses that offer such great service.


More work progressing on having the house rewired. It is so good to be on a break and be able to be on site with the guys so that first hand info regarding needs can be relayed. The boys are quite stunned at the ceilings in some rooms of the house and haven’t seen another like it. Glad that they are happy to share our vision and they really seem ‘stoked’ to work on this project. This is why we chose them and I am pleased it is going well.

Bit scary seeing electrics wrapped in steel.


Bit excited! I have planted some lettuce seedlings into my first wicking bed today. They are still very tiny but incredibly the roots were about 3 inches long. I have covered the bed with some bubble wrap saved from parcels received. This should create a comfy home for them until they grow a bit while this weather is still so unpredictable.

Tomorrow I work on getting the second bed up and running!

Broad beans appearing!

Nice restful day today after my heavy duty day yesterday. The weather also was not conducive to doing much outside, even though the sun came out at about 3 o’clock the wind is horrible.

I did some more research on which greenhouse I am going to buy and think I have settled on the Sproutwell Prestige 3m X 3m one. I would dearly love one of the traditional looking ones you see in British movies or those murder mystery shows like Midsomer Murder (the gardens are usually the best content) where there are  beautiful manicured gardens and usually have a quaint little gardener with a limp potting up terracotta pots with bits and pieces but they are incredibly expensive and I will not have the time to build one. Compromise!

Did a check on the broad beans at 51 (ATMT HQ) and there are signs that I may not have to wait too long.

These beans have been planted 2 weeks less than the ones at home, have less sun and are covered with bird netting. The ones at home still do not have any showing, plenty of flowers though.

Snow peas growing in my greenhouse are coming in at a rapid rate.

The lemon grass I cut right back is shooting away. Big sigh of relief!

I am attempting to grow some ‘Rosella‘ plants as I was fortunate enough to have some champagne with a Rosella flower which had been preserved in syrup placed in the glass. Was quite delicious and I believe it makes great Jams too. Think it will have to stay in the greenhouse to keep conditions warm enough to achieve flowering.

Back to the DVD player now for a dose of Luke Nguyen in Vietnam I think.

I’m pooped and I stink!

Well I did before my lovely soak in our Japanese bath!

Boy I am going to miss this when we move! A Japanese bath is short but very deep. We have installed ours on a deck outside the main bathroom and it is exceptionally relaxing especially when it is raining or there is a full moon and you can see it moving across the sky  above you. Oh so lovely after a hard day’s work.

Today was a clean up day at the house. It is so easy for a sense of being out of control to envelop you when building or renovating and time must be dedicated to keeping the demons at bay.

First up I visited our local paint store, I am not very good at visualizing the finished result with colour, and the one I liked isn’t available in Australia (trust me!) so I decided to go to a dedicated paint store rather than the chain hardware stores. What a good decision! They have a consultant on staff which sadly isn’t promoted in any advertising or on their website which is always my first port of call when researching anything these days. I met a delightful lady who ‘got it’ and on Monday someone is coming to have a look at the house to give me some ideas (no charge, all part of the service) very happy about that! She also invited me to take photos and she will work with me on ideas. These are a couple of photos of areas I need help with.

Pressed steel ceiling in old doctors surgery


Lounge room bay window and ceiling
Passage before


I then delivered some raspberry canes and the wind flower plants that I had dug up to my friend. It was then into mowing the 8 inch long spring growth, weeding, raking and sweeping all the last of the oak tree leaves and stacking them into the compost. We have a heritage listed pin oak in the front yard and there was a lot of yellow oxalis sprouting under it-all gone for now! I’m not game to put this into the compost so that went into the greenwaste bin. A good old sweep and clean and I feel back in control but very tired!

Yay, first wicking bed finished!

With the school term break upon us I had made a list of jobs to do over the break which included finishing the first wicking bed. I then had a brain-wave that if I completed some of the jobs on the list before hand, I would have more time available over the break to do some more ‘urgent’ works. Not sure what this says about my personality (masochist?) but with my husband in China I spent a bit of time each day after work diligently going for it!

After my marathon effort last weekend of shovelling gravel into the base of the bed, it was time to add a membrane on this gravel to ensure the soil didn’t filter down into the gravel and block the holes of the drainage pipe. After researching the difference between woven and non-woven weed mat which is recommended at this stage, I decided on using a geo-textile normally used as a drainage mat in septic tank systems and industrial drainage. Cost was a bit more, but quality better and seemed more suited to the purpose. I wasn’t going to risk using an inferior product after all this for the sake of a few dollars.

Wednesday night I laid the membrane and started filling the bed with the first layer of soil,

Thursday night I finished placing the first layer of soil which is a mix of mushroom compost and garden soil from Moe Garden Supplies. I then covered that layer with some blood and bone and then on Friday night I filled the bed with more of the soil mix. Quite pleased with my efforts really! Looks like it is ready to plant and tomorrow I will test filling with water and checking the overflow works. My one concern is that the overflow outlet is a little too high up the bed, but that can be sorted easily (if I can fix the drill!).


Happy with that! Now I can settle back have a glass of wine and make a list of holiday jobs!

One of the other jobs on my list was to dig up some of the Japanese Windflower plants (anemones) and replant to the new house. I also want to make sure some of these go back to my friend who I ‘pinched’ them from many years ago. Hers have not survived but mine are going really well so it will be nice to repay her.


Now if anyone can conjure up a good house re-blocker that is reasonably priced and travels to Gippsland, please pass on their contact details to me.

Fence in a Bucket update

Caught by surprise that we had a couple of sunny days last week I forgot to raise the lid on the cold frame and my cuttings got a bit ‘fried’! Instead of the 50 or so I was hoping for there are about 30 that have developed roots and seem to have survived. I have re-planted these into a larger container and hope that they will continue to develop.

Weekly Tip September 20th 2012

With Nude food day fast approaching, using the holidays to plan how you are going to make changes to the way you pack lunches and snacks is a good idea. There are several purpose made lunch containers available that include spaces for a sandwich/roll, small ones with leak resistant lids so that you can buy yoghurt, fruits in syrup etc. in cheaper bulk sizes and put  into these smaller containers. Reuse soft drink bottles for a drink and bring all snacks without wrapping or packaging. Even better, select healthier options such as carrots, sultanas, whole fruits etc. as the snack rather than sugar and fat laden bars and chips. Go on, have a go, it really is easy! Visit www.nudefoodday.com for ideas and recipes.

By golly this had better be worth it!

You know those times when you start a job and within 30 minutes you wish hadn’t, 2 hours in you know if you don’t finish it you probably wont go back to it and you push yourself past the pain barrier to get it done. Today was like that! Yesterday I got the first wicking bed ready to start filling with gravel, I laid out the agi-pipe on the base of the bed, inserted the overflow outlet and connected the pipes for filling. Quite a good afternoons work.

Then came Sunday!

Today it was time to place a 30cm layer of gravel into the bed to cover the agi-pipe.  This bottom level has been lined with heavy-duty builders plastic and weed mat and will act as a reservoir for water that will ‘wick’ its way up through the soil (that’s the next job) allowing the roots of the plants good access to water. Similar in principle to the self watering pots you can buy. Statistics say using this method can save up to 50% of water used in maintaining the planted bed.

Doesn’t sound much but gravel is heavy and with some hand issues that reduce gripping strength it was a challenge to complete, with my husband in China and plumber son out of action with an injury I couldn’t plea to them for assistance, so armed with determination and shovel I started. Established a good little pattern – 15 shovels to the wheel barrow, up to the bed then shovel it into the bed. This bed is 6 metres long and my hands were rebelling furiously. With the help of some loud music and many jugs of water I finally completed the mission! These beds had better perform brilliantly! Finished in time to go home, dose up on pain relief, have a lovely hot bath and prepare for my son’s birthday dinner. Thank goodness for the slow cooker!

At this point I had had enough!

Let’s see what Spring has sprung so far.

Rain, rain and more rain here in Gippsland!

Shiitakes can be sneaky!

I read somewhere that shiitake mushrooms will go dormant and to re-trigger their activity you should bang them or drop them to simulate a log falling from a tree. Apparently this is the agro-forestry version of shock therapy! Well I felt a bit silly when I did this and hey presto!

Mmmm, no sign of life.

But wait, what is that at the back of the stack?

Shiitake sneaky!

Blueberries LOADED, this may have something to with the cold stint we have had this winter.

Yellow is in!

Tomatoes doing nicely!

Wisteria seems to have coped with the move so far .

A cutting from a fig tree I acquired at Maldon when we went camping at Easter this  year seems to be proving a success. The plan is to espalier this, just where is the next question!

 All in all, Spring seems to be doing nicely for me at this stage. We had a lovely weekend, sharing a celebratory dinner with special friends (Happy Birthday Richard!), did a bit of a clean up so the electricians had better access around the ‘stuff’ we have moved from one place to another and finished up with a lovely Osso-bucco for dinner.

We just need to get through my son having surgery on his damaged hand resulting from ‘over partying’ tomorrow and it will have been a sensational way to spend a couple of days!

The PS post!

I’m not a magnolia fan, but I really appreciate the design of their flowers. We were in two minds as to whether or not to remove this old magnolia. Here is why we didn’t!

First step down the long, long road.

The very exciting beginning to our restoration/renovation process has officially begun! This week the electrician has started re-wiring the entire house which will include replacing and relocating the meter board, replacing the fuse board with something slightly smaller than the mini sub-station hanging from the wall at the moment and removing all of the fluro tube lights  and wall strip heaters. I can’t envisage that these electric strip heaters could achieve anything in the way of warmth when they are 12 feet off the ground! I will feel so much safer when these dangerous fittings have been given the old heave ho! The one thing we really hope to keep is the original door bell, its a doozy! None of your electronic ding dongs here! You remember, a good proper bell that continues ringing as long as you push the button,  the type where you can annoy people by being smart and pushing the ringer to SOS or happy birthday etc. Love it!


Wonder if the new one will last as well as the old one? We estimate about 70 years!


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