In, out, in, out………

Deciding on what to tackle is loosely based around on the weather conditions, fine-work outside, wet-work inside. With the weather being very unpredictable at the moment changing from fine to wet and back again in the space of an hour or so we were doing a bit of toing and froing in and out all weekend. During the yucky, wet periods, it was clean and tidy up the verandah, (which looked absolutely frightful with reno stuff piled everywhere), and continue working on finishing painting the bedroom. We were going to fit the skirting boards but decided it would be best to wait until the floors are sanded. Can’t wait to post a photo of the finished bedroom!

Out for a bit.

Lots happening in the patch at the moment. One of the not so good things is that some crows discovered my corn seedlings and thought they were ideal fodder. With some quick thinking I requested some frames be attached to the beds. These will not only be used for supporting bird netting, but will mean I have something to attach shade cloth to in the very hot weather and they can also be used as anchoring points for trellis, wire and other supports. I think they will work really well and it was good to use up a bit of the old timber that came from a bungalow we demolished. There will be rails going across from  front to back  as well making them genuine ‘Four Poster Beds.  It started raining and we will have to come out again and get back to that.

Bird Proofing

Back in for a bit.

After a delightful brunch of cereal, greek yoghurt, skim milk and my beautiful strawberries, I headed into the greenhouse and did some planting, feeding, tying up and thinking.

Cereal with strawberries
Picking about this many every two days at the moment. They are soooo much nicer than the shop ones.

I am so sick of losing basil to snails and slugs I thought I’d try starting seed off in a hydroponic box. I cut down the lid of a broccoli box so it fits inside the box, made holes that fit small cups in,  filled the cups with potting mix, filled the box with nutrient solution, fitted some bamboo stakes through the box walls to keep the lid at a height that the cups have just their bottoms in the solution. Put some basil seed in cups on top and watered, then plonked the tray into the box. I grew basil in a similar way a few years ago and it was a great success.

Basil in a wet box
See how we go with this!

Thanks to my wonderful Sproutwell Greenhouse, I have some tomatoes just about ripe, Ripening Tomato

and some black cherry tomatoes going gangbusters in the old bath along with some rockmelons.

Some great harvests this week, potatoes, asparagus, our first raspberries at this house, (YAY!)

First raspberries

lettuce, herbs, silverbeet, and lots of radishes. I’ve cut the scapes from the garlic and will use them like garlic chives. It is reported that better bulbs result from doing this too.

What’s coming in?

The zucchini are starting to form. Might be able to do some stuffed flowers soon!

Italian zucchini

Back Outside

Lettuce coming along, garlic nearing harvest time, succession planting of radish and beans in. Replaced corn seed the flamin’ crows mowed down.

And most exciting of all………..dam, thought I had a photo, that will have to wait.

Back Inside

Thai Chicken Patties (recipe Below) with greek yoghurt sauce asparagus, roasted tomatoes and some gorgeous freshly picked spuds.


Wonder if we will be in or out this week!



  • 300g lean skinless chicken, roughly chopped
  • small handful coriander leaves
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime or lemon, no pith
  • 2 tbsp sweet Thai chilli sauce
  • 2 tbspn fish sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 2 slices bread that has been turned into crumbs
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup coconut cream or couple drops coconut essence (for sauce)

Mix all the ingredients apart from the coconut essence in a bowl. Form into pattie shape balls, let chill about 15 minutes. In a hot (but not too hot) pan, put in a little grapeseed oil. When oil is hot, carefully put the patties in (they are quite moist and soft so be careful). Gently cook and when golden turn to cook on other side.

While patties are cooking mix app ½ cup of greek yoghurt with 2 tblspns chilli sauce, some chopped coriander and  2 tspns of fish sauce. Add a couple of drops of coconut essence or a blob of coconut milk and mix all together. Use as a serving sauce.

I served them with asparagus, tomatoes and fresh potatoes cause that’s what we had, but they would be nice with salad served in a bun or in pitta bread too.

More good food, more painting!

When I created this blog the main intention was to keep a diary of how our works were progressing with the renovation and in the garden. It has been a delightful added bonus that I keep discovering a myriad of new and exciting ideas for cooking, growing, lifestyle choices and every possible facet of living. I have also been introduced to a world of like minded people who are keen to share and support those with similar interests.  I am a pretty keen internet user and my work colleagues call me the ‘Google Queen’. The first thing I do if I have a question about anything is to ‘Google It’. I haven’t used a phone book for years, I find youtube great for learning new skills and watching how people do and manage things. Now if only we can ensure it is always used for good and not evil…………

Dinner Saturday night.

Thanks to Lisa over at the ‘Gourmet Wog‘ for posting her recipe and information about Lebanese Toum. I had never heard of Toum before,  but her lively description enticed me and having the ingredients of my garlic, our lemons, oil, egg thanks to our girls, S&P and a bit of water all to hand it seemed a breeze. I mixed the Toum with the Bamix, using grape seed oil and it was a great taste sensation.

Here we go!
Lebanese Toum ingredients-the egg yolk doesn’t go in though.

IMG_1879Served on a nibble platter with grilled turkish bread, grilled chunky and very meaty mushrooms, freshly picked asparagus (sadly not mine), roasted cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and cucumber. Mr ATMT  sat dipping the veg into the sauce for 2 hours and looked like he may hyperventilate if I removed the platter! Luckily we will both stink as badly as each other after such a hit of garlic.

Dinner Sunday Night

We seem to have fallen into a routine of using whatever leftovers there are from Sat night’s creation and rejigging them for Sunday nights dinner. With so many jobs to do with the reno it’s lovely to have a plan in place in advance. Last nights Toum recipe is traditionally served with chicken so I thought some chicken wraps with tabouleh, Toum and salad would be good. It was.

Toum and tabouleh chicken wrap


Spent a fair amount of time repairing, filling, gluing, sanding, undercoating and applying first coat of paint on the recycled cedar skirting boards that are going back into the bedroom. Will do a few coats while removed and once fitted will do final fill and paint.

Skirting painting


Does anyone know if these are Artichokes?IMG_1909 

I planted some tubers earlier in the year but can’t remember where, these are appearing and look too much like they belong so I thought they may the artichokes. Surely someone will know!

IMG_1905I’ve been struggling with the look of the chicken house being so obviously ‘new’, so I have been hunting for ways to make the timber appear a little more seasoned. I settled on using a stain by Intergrain which is apparently a Dulux product, colour I chose is charcoal. I’m really happy with the result and with a little weathering I think it will help the chicken house blend more in with the environment rather than sticking out like a pimple on a bum! It’s nights like this when we have really hammered away with jobs that I miss my japanese bath that we had at the old house. Oh well, there’s another plan to put on the list!


Good things – Inside and out!


I am so excited that the new vegie beds are starting to look and feel like ‘real’ growing and production sources. When our children were little I managed to grow most of our food in our own patch, but that all changed as I returned to outside work and kept upping the hours I was not at home, consequently not able to tend to such a commitment. It has been quite a few years since I had the pleasure of reaping most of our food from my own garden and I must admit I’ve missed it more than I can say. I find myself getting so excited because my corn seed is pushing its little green poles through the soils surface,

IMG_1833there are tiny little swellings at the base of the radishes that I know will end up in our salad in a couple of weeks.


Beans are shooting (hopefully this 2nd round won’t suffer the same fate as the first which were eaten by earwigs), Tomatoes are flowering, strawberries are being eaten

Strawberriesand garlic is getting close to being ready to harvest. I can already see the lettuce in my lunchbox and those cucumbers in a Greek style dip. I just love it! Dinner last night was pasta with salsa verde made from Annabel Langbein’s recipe. My parsley, garlic, lemons, egg and combined with a few staples of mustard, olive oil, capers, pine nuts and fish sauce made a great pasta sauce. I roasted  some  cherry tomatoes and mushrooms it was  a gratifying and delicious meal to prepare and eat.

Pasta with salsa verde

The grass seed that was sown last week is sprouting and looks like it will do OK, the birch trees we planted don’t seem to have stressed too much and because we have had just the right mix of rain and sun, all the topsoil used to level out and lift the back yard  has settled really well.


I don’t know about anyone else, but I have huge problems selecting the right colour when painting. When I select sample colours from the hardware/paint shop it usually looks nothing like my expectations once it hits the wall. I had a particular colour in my head for the bedroom and because I have difficulty expressing what my ideas are it has been quite a hit and miss process. I wanted a sort of duck egg blue, but not too blue, not too green and not too dense. A colour that was fresh and light and that I would love whenever I wake up  and see it in the morning or when the dimmed light is on at night. I must admit I must have moved forward over the years because I never used to understand that light effected the appearance and I would ‘crack a wobbly’ if outcome of sample wasn’t exactly as I had anticipated. I now understand (much to my husband’s relief!) you just need to find the right colour, and I lightly sigh and continue the search. Because this ‘new old house’ is so dark we need to make the most of every bit of natural light that we can. As chance would have it, I had a colour consultant call in last night who was going to go and think about it and get back to us. Anxious to get the project moving I went to my favourite paint shop in Moe and the assistant just happened to suggest a Taubman’s paint colour called  ‘Rain Cloud’. I immediately knew we were in the right territory and bought a sample pot to try. Bingo! We were both very happy with the sample so I went back and bought 10 litres of half strength Rain Cloud. We spent the afternoon with Mr ATMT painting the ceiling and with me starting the filling, sanding and repairing of the old red cedar skirting boards we removed and will be reusing.

Skirting repairs

With the final ceiling coat of paint done and 2 coats of Rain Cloud on the walls we can see direction and are very happy with the results.

Rain Cloud paint half strength. Very excited to see what the outcome of this room will be as I am certain I have the exact picture in my head of the end result,  but as all my family have frequently experienced, it is quite likely I will say in true ‘Little Britain style’, “that’s not what I expected. I don’t like it!” Lucky Mr ATMT is a VERY patient man.

Dinner tonight, leftovers? Not quite!

With a sizeable amount of the salsa verde left over from last nights pasta, I thought using it as a topping on chicken with a parmesan crumb might be nice. Freshly picked potatoes,


cooked then added to pan to brown off, some beans and carrots and a grilled tomato on the side. Lightly grilled chicken spread with some salsa verde and I made a breadcrumb and parmesan topping. Under the griller for a few minutes and it was very, very nice.

Grilled chickenBit worried there might be expectations to keep these lovely meals coming. Will just keep Annabel close to hand!

Coming together and enjoying the harvest.

More blooming concrete!

More concrete!We purchased three established cut leaf silver birch trees to fill a gap behind ‘the patch’ and while Mr ATMT was digging holes to plant them he came across MORE  concrete down about a foot from the surface. This is what we have been using as the pavers in the pathways. Wish we knew what the original purpose of this was! The area leads into what was once stables and it is too consistent and level to be fill. With this house having once been the doctors residence and with a neighbouring house being the original hospital we wonder whether there was a linking path or drive between the two. The concrete isn’t very thick so wouldn’t have heavy use to cope with unlike our driveway that you land a jumbo jet on!

Can see it taking shape…..happy with that!View from drive

View from drive way into back yard. Reclaimed concrete become pavers leading into ‘the patch’, new grass seed has had first hair cut.IMG_1617 View from top of last shot showing the mulberry tree, the newly planted cut leaf silver birches and our keepers of the gate.IMG_1628

View from rear of yard back to driveway. Couple of chairs under the mulberry tree, a fence will be installed around the vegie patch making this a quiet haven of tranquility once planting is established. IMG_1646

I moved 2 compost bins full of compost and leaf mold which nicely mulched this bed around the new trees. Very rewarding indeed.


Lawn area. In total we have moved in about 25 meters of fill and topsoil to make this yard level. Lawn seed now sown and we anxiously await its appearance.

Waiting, waiting, waiting……. Oh so patiently.


First cherries forming. I’ve never grown cherries before so am really excited to see these little cherubs appearing. I am even more chuffed because this tree was one I created when I attended a grafting workshop year before last. Supposed to be on a dwarf (or smaller) rootstock than normal.1st Tomato

First tomato fruiting. This plant is one that has kept going in the greenhouse since last autumn. I cut it back and fed it well and it isn’t far from harvesting.

Bean attacked!

Bean attack! The first sign of beans I posted last week has been cut short (pardon the pun!) by some munching critter. Not sure if its earwigs or something else. My potato crop foliage is being decimated by earwigs and none of the usual traps are working at all. Anyone got any suggestions?

RaspberriesFirst sign of raspberries producing. Don’t tell the earwigs.

This weeks harvests.

First spuds

First bandicooted spuds (potatoes), shallots, asparagus, parsley, silverbeet, coriander, mint, lettuce, thyme, oregano, beetroot leaves for salad and some good old faithful lemons. Getting more and more all the time.

IMG_1669I also picked my first bunch of roses at this house. Stunning! The dark pink one is called ‘Blue River’, massive flower and nothing like the tag but it is beautiful.

In the kitchen.

Slow cooker stock

The sharing of knowledge, tips and hints available to us now because of the internet is quite mind-blowing. I spend a lot of time reading others blogs and posts and I have to say the best tip I’ve learned is how to make stock in the slow cooker. I read this post and it ‘just made such damned good sense’ that I have been doing it ever since. I had run out so on went the slow cooker full of stuff I’d collected in the freezer and a bag of chicken carcasses I bought last time I went to the Footscray Market. Freezer fully stocked up again (ooh, another bad pun!).

Goats cheese and asparagus tart.

Asparagus and goat cheese tart

I’ve been reading a lot of Annabel Lanbein’s recipes lately and her common sense style really appeals to me. I found her recipe for asparagus and goat cheese tart and made a few adjustments so I didn’t have to go to the shop. Basically the only things the same as her recipe was that I used some goats cheese, asparagus and some eggs. Everything else was pretty much substituted for what was at hand.

I used puff instead of shortcrust pastry, ricotta instead of cream cheese, sour cream instead of cream, left out the parmesan to keep a bit lighter, added a slosh of milk to compensate for thicker sour cream and oh, I did also use parsley! Served with a hot (warm potato salad) made from our freshly picked potatoes (microwaved for 4 minutes) to which I added some S&P, lightly fried off shallot, mushroom, capsicum and snow peas. I then stirred in about a tablespoon of sour cream and it was beautiful. A couple of bits of lettuce and some beetroot leaves with chopped tomato and it was a lovely dinner. So satisfying putting together food you’ve grown.

With the left over tart mix I thought it may make good muffins so I added some grape-seed oil, a couple of handfuls of SR flour, a handful of grated cheese, some finely chopped shallot and a bit of milk to thin mix. I sprinkled a bit of parmesan over them in the last couple of minutes. This was a winner! Really  nice, light and tasty.

asparagus and goat cheese muffins

Covered a lot this weekend. Looking forward to a day off on Tuesday and spending it with my family getting together, having a few champagnes and bets on the Melbourne Cup! Hope I back a winner!

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