New water and gas line pipework begins

We are very lucky to have a son who has recently completed his plumbing apprenticeship and also happens to be quite fussy about the way he does things (I think that may come from parental influence!).  It sometimes takes a bit of convincing him to have a go and it is no surprise to us that we are never disappointed with his accomplishments. It did prove a challenge to his expectations when he hit all the old tree roots, as he has up until now only worked on nice clean new development sites that don’t have this issue. Hence he thought he could have done better with leaving a cleaner, tidy level surface. There has been almost 100 years of growth on this block, we removed 12 very large trees, and just as many smaller ones, all of which still had their root systems buried in the sub surface. Not easy to dig through and leave pristine! The following video is a selection of the progress he made today. We think he has done an amazing job and it is beautiful watching the way he can manoeuvre the excavator in small spaces. Thanks Dave, you are awesome!

Potato, beetroot and broad bean salad. AKA Train wreck salad!

After a busy day at the ‘new old house’ I didn’t have much motivation for cooking but still wanted to enjoy the first pickings of our broad beans and beetroot. Inspired from a post I read on one of my favourite blogs – Suburban Tomato, I made a few improvisations based on what was available and we enjoyed a nice healthy, snack style dinner.

Ingredients I had were:

Handful of beautiful young baby broad beans freshly picked as I came in the back gate,

2 small beetroot, also picked as I came in the gate.

A couple of old kipfler potatoes that were about to be planted because of the shoots they were setting,

Some nasty supermarket bread,

Feta cheese I buy in bulk and store in oil with garlic and olives because our local supermarket only sells stuff that is like kids school erasers (actually I think it tastes worse).

Mint and some lovely macadamia oil.

At this point the beets were steaming and the bread was browning.

First up I put the beetroot into  a steamer to cook while I prepared the rest of the salad. I peeled, cut into small chunks the potatoes and zapped them in the microwave for 4 minutes. Cut the bread into crouton sized bits and placed into a dry pan to crisp up, once the spuds were out of microwave, I drizzled macadamia oil over them and added some chopped garlic which went into the bread pan so they could all brown off together. While waiting for beets to cook and potatoes and bread to crisp up I shelled the broad beans, cut some mint and sliced some beetroot tops finely. I crumbled the feta and sipped a glass of wine. When bread and potato combo was ready, I turned off the heat and just tipped the beans, beet leaves and feta into the pan to warm through from retained heat while I peeled and cut the beetroot. Added the beetroot to the mix, stirred all through together and served with a squeeze of lemon juice. Looks a bit like a train wreck but tasted really fresh, light and filled the hungry tum. Next time I would definitely use good bread for the croutons and probably serve them on the side.

I really wish now that I hadn’t been ‘nicking’ the young broad beans as they have been forming, as the taste of these, barely cooked, young, sweet, tender beans with the lemon juice was amazing-just weren’t enough of them in the salad!

Oh what a ceiling – first coat done!

Having made the decision to begin some redecorating before the re-blocking is done, we chose the lounge as a starting point because if we ever sell our house and move in it will be nice to have at least one room that is clean, fresh and relatively in control. The pressed tin ceiling appears to be in pretty good shape with no sagging, rust and minimal cracking and peeling of old paint (unlike the walls). Having washed the entire ceiling, scraped off loose paint and under-coated the areas that had been scraped and filled we began the first coat. When I say we, I really mean my husband! Not that I am a princess with these things, it just hasn’t happened that way this time. My expertise will be well put to use when I start filling the  walls, making the lines where paint can be scraped back no further magically disappear.

Didn’t realise just how dark the old paint is.

We have gone for a low sheen finish to just give a hint of reflection on the surface. Seems to be doing the job well. Colour is Dulux Lexicon quarter which apparently is white base with a ‘blob’ of black added.

Ceiling with Dulux Lexicon quarter low sheen.

First coat done! Very pleased with result. It has highlighted a couple of spots that need a little filler, but we consider it would be prudent to leave that until stumps are fixed!

Very exciting!

We can see the scaffolding is going to get a really good workout! Very pleased with that purchase.

Starting Blocks-Some Before Shots

These photos show parts of the house when we purchased it and just after settlement. This is a base line so we can go back and revisit how far we have come after each change. Some radical decisions had to be made as far as removing some trees, mostly old pencil pines that had decades worth of bird and vermin excrement in and under them, along with totally eliminating any light coming into the house. The property had been vacant for at least three years, smelled of damp, had signs of mould in high spots and hadn’t been painted for a very long time. Apart from that, all is relatively in pretty good shape on the surface. Some work needs to be done on the stumps but reports indicate it shouldn’t be dramatic. We hope to bring the front section of the house back to close to original state and extend the back of the house with an extension that is complimentary to the period. No stainless splash-backs going in here!

Front verandah facing north
Originally built for taking X-Rays, this room later became a surgery for the weekly dentist visit. It will be turned into my preserving, pickling, bottling, cheese making, home brew and outdoor bar area. The infilled area of the verandah was where the ‘on call’ nurse was stationed.
The magnificent lounge with original Wunderlich pressed tin ceiling, cedar bay window and 10″ cedar skirting. Dado added later and fireplace surround also an updated extra.
Kitchen viewed towards passageway. Solid fuel stove was important to ensure Doctor always had ready access to hot water. Still works like a charm!
Kitchen cupboards. This makes us giggle as Sheila was ‘knee high to a grasshopper’ and we can hardly reach the first shelf let alone the ones that go up to the original 11’6 ceilings. Under this bottom unit, the original brick cellar is still in place. This was used for storing, cheese, butter and milk before refrigeration was readily available. The old laundry hoist hooks are also still in the ceiling, this would have housed a pulley system where washing was put onto rails similar to a clothes horse and pulled up high where it captured the heat from the stove and dried. Once dry the rails would have been lowered and dry washing removed.
This front room was used as an office for Doc Fergie and had a quirky little wiring system that enabled him to relay his beloved music from his record player in here through to a speaker in the lounge that was housed into the dado. I think he would have loved e-music! This room will become a guest bedroom refurbished in original style.
Passageway looking north. At the front end of this there are two cute little doors that acted as dividers between the doctor’s area and the family residence. Not sure how we will integrate these doors but we will!

There were electric strip heaters mounted on most of the internal walls (see above doorway in passage). that we were scared to pull the ‘on’ strings for, they just looked dangerous and I can’t believe they could ever actually add value to the comfort factor of warmth. As an accredited home sustainability assessor, every cell in my being just went urrggghhhh!

Gate into side access lane with excessive growth from all sorts of vines around the old garage which is hidden behind the wisteria on the left.

Weekly Tip 18th October 2012

What does ‘throw it away’ really mean? When you think about it waste ‘thrown away’ has only been relocated and still needs to be managed in some form. Ask yourself: What do you think about waste? Are you concerned about waste, or is it someone else’s responsibility? Whose responsibility is it? What do your neighbours think about waste?
What about your friends, family and work-mates? Take the chance to influence how other people think about waste. In Australia it costs us millions of dollars a year to collect and dispose of all of our waste (check your rate notice for the garbage disposal rate). It also costs us money to try to fix the damage waste disposal can do to our environment. 56% of Australia’s domestic waste comes from food scraps and green-waste, all manageable by composting, paper 19%, 3% metal, 6% plastic, 5% glass all recyclable. Time to do some re-thinking before we ‘throw away’. This comes right back to choices made when purchasing, simply thinking packaging is recyclable is not a solution.

Wet One day Wonderful the next!

Yet again a wet, cold miserable Gippsland Day on Saturday! With the forecast for a nice Sunday we took the opportunity of attending the Baw Baw Garden expo on the yucky Saturday. Did this for a couple of reasons, one was that as soon as the sun comes out crowds were sure to appear and make it very difficult to talk to the exhibitors we wanted to see and with so few nice days having been gifted in the weather department this year it would be nice to just enjoy the garden and work at home on one of the many projects.

I am very excited to have finally placed an order for our new greenhouse. I decided on a Sproutwell Prestige 3000. Slightly bigger than my existing unit and  better ventilation in hot weather. I am quite excited about this new investment, as this year I have grown all of the vegies and flowers in the garden from seed. With the price of seed punnets these days it won’t take long to recoup the cost. This and the opportunity to extend the growing season plus add few items not normally suitable to our climate and it becomes a great addition, not to mention a great cubby for me!

Always on the look out for great ideas, I was impressed with this little find!

There was a lady there selling these bags made of fine net mesh that looks quite durable and stretchy. The objective is to take them shopping with you so you don’t need to use those ‘tear off the roll’  plastic bags. I must admit, the only things I use those bags for is grapes, everything else goes in loose, much to the chagrin of the checkout operator!

We also purchased a new Cercis canadensis (which I admit I cited as Cercis pallustris in my spring post, will need to correct that!). We have one of these near my pizza oven and it is a joy to look at all year round. Different qualities in different seasons and they are all lovely, displayed on their delicate zig-zag branches.

Sunday 14th

Woke to see a few grey clouds and I thought the forecast had been wrong again, but within an hour or so the hardly seen lately sun appeared and the day just got better and better! I had to do some boring ‘clean up to make the house look better for prospective buyers (PB’s)’ jobs but I even enjoyed doing those in the sun. The jungle that had emerged in our garage spouting has now been put into the compost and the carport and drive way is now nice and tidy. Unfortunately still too wet to mow so the PB’s will have to imagine nice, neat grass areas.

It is traditional in Melbourne and Victoria to plant tomatoes out on Cup Weekend but mine have been doing so well in the greenhouse they need to go in or they will start showing signs of stress. This will be the first major planting in the new, big wicking bed so I am a bit excited! These ones are the San Marzano variety which is similar to Roma and will be used in making ‘passata’, tomato sauce and for drying. I have yet to plant out the Gross Lisse and a couple of specialist varieties, but I need to allocate space for them first. Still working on a wicking bed staking system  because you cant just hammer in stakes like in a normal bed as you would puncture the water reservoir liner. Might need to check out the scrap metal bin at the tip and be a bit creative!

The namesake of this blog is bursting into life!

Garlic galore!

As I ponder if there is anything else I need to record, I hear a crunching sound behind me. The king parrots have discovered the new growth of the grape-vine on the pergola outside our back door. Just beautiful! But oh dear, looks like I had better get up and clean under the eaves for the PB’s!

Weekly Tip 11th October 2012

Pretty exciting news! I am pleased to say we have joined the Resource Smart AuSSI Vic program. This is a State Government Initiative that assists schools in minimizing waste, saving energy and water, improving biodiversity and cutting greenhouse emissions.
Schools can work towards 5 star certification in one or all of these areas, our first focus point will be on minimizing waste. Please help us towards achieving this goal of reducing waste and support our Nude Food lunch day next Wednesday. I have printed off some examples of ‘Nude Food’ lunches and have strategically posted them around the school. The concept of opening a packet of Twisties or chips and tossing them into a lunchbox is not in the spirit of ‘Nude Food Day’! Basically, no packaging, plastic or wrappers that would end up in landfill is to be included in the lunch. Oodles of options when you think about it!

Day of reflection.

With the high level of energy I have been expending trying to keep 2 houses that are on the market in control, renovating to make the new old house reasonable enough to move into when we do finally sell our home and getting the vegetable garden basics in place ready for this years planting, I felt a little turmoil rolling around in my head.  Today I have done absolutely nothing apart from wander around the garden at our existing home reflecting on how much we have done here over the years both in the garden, in the house and in raising our three delightful now adult children. When we moved into this home 23 years ago it was a big empty square with a lovely acer negundo planted slap bang in the middle of the yard, an old wood shed and lots of ivy and blackberries. Over the years we have gone through 2 dogs, about 20 chooks  (the last died a couple of months ago aged 17!) many lovely meals from the garden, happy times with friends and family and many water pistol fights. Here is a little of springs offerings.



We’ve Hit the Wall!

Big step today. We are hoping to have the lounge room a little more comfortable for living in by Christmas. Long term we will probably replace the dado panelling with either pressed tin or a suitable heritage wallpaper, but in the mean time we are just going to paint it the same colour as the walls. We will retain the beautiful old cedar skirting boards and architraves. They do need some revitalization so I had better stock up on the steel wool!

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