Things are getting serious!

Firstly, my apologies for my regular blogging contacts who must feel ignored by my lack of interest recently (I know they only exist to see my affirmations of their posts (not!!!)), but it has been so full on around here I can barely think. So what’s been happening you ask?

Well the biggest priority has been enjoying our new grandson, what a delight it is watching your child become a parent and I can’t explain how lovely it is to share in seeing this little tacker grow and develop. Joy oh joy!

Next up has been our exteno. Full Speed ahead!

Things are getting serious!

We have had builders, plumbers, electricians, plasterers, data cabling people, tilers, heating specialists all in and out either planning, doing or quoting on doing. We are thrilled with the way it is coming together and I can proudly say I now have a dishwasher and a sink. They might be in boxes in the front room but they are here.

Things are getting serious and we face the hardest part of all since we started. The kitchen sink had to go to allow access for insulating, electrical and plastering. A bit of ingenious camping technology means we still have access to the hot water but that will go soon too. Like the way we can still empty the sink dish bucket down the funnel?

Kitchen sink removedI’ve had to resort to using the mini Weber Q on the workbench in the shed for basic roasting and barbecuing as everything else has been relocated to down the back of the yard. Rest easy, my toy oven remains inside, it has however had a loss of its handle.

Weber mini qI’m fine with that. Tonights dinner was some roasted veg (had microwaved first to soften) served with feta, pomegranate seed and some beautiful steak we had left from a BBQ the other night. This brushed with pomegranate molasses, grilled and tossed through the veg and feta and it was lovely. Served with some fresh 40% rye sourdough, yum yum yum. Pomegranates would be right up there as one of my favourite foods. Sorry about the flash and cruddy photo, tasted much better than it looks.

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I like to think I’m a reliable sort of person, never miss appointments and if I’m running late, I at least have the manners to ring the party and let them know. If I stuff up their schedule then I’m more than happy to reschedule to suit them. This was blown out of the water last week when my hairdresser texted asking where I was for my appointment. Mortified, I took around a straight from the oven rye and oatmeal loaf which her kids ripped into after school. Feedback from them was that it was very nice, the slice her 10 year old cut for me was indeed very delicious. The addition of oat bran made for a very soft crumb. Will work further with this formula.Oat bran sourdoughI’ve needed to do a lot of thinking about what needs to be included in this exteno so I picked up a crochet hook for the first time in about 40 years. I have found that it has been lovely avoiding the internet, Facebook and work emails at night and just thinking through what needs to be done. Not one to do anything with baby steps and inspired by the beautiful work by Jan at A Gluttonous Wife I picked a ridiculously intricate pattern and thought I’d “crack a tanty” after a few rounds and decide that was a stupid thing to start as a first time in a long time project. Surprisingly, I’ve really enjoyed it. I made Mr ATMT be the colour consultant as I just don’t do that ‘arty farty stuff’ at all well, where as he is pretty good at colours. I was aiming for a Turkish/Middle Eastern feel. Really happy with this little project so far and I think the end result will look good over a bed or as a snuggle rug on the couch for when things are cool. The pattern I’m using is available here, highly recommend the clear instructions and the  bonus is that there are video instructions that another very clever lady has done for each section of this rug. I have found that to be  a very handy resource indeed!

SphiesMy work on the chimney is progressing slowly. I need to get this done before plastering commences as I don’t want all the crap flying around then. chimney 4And as for next week!

Our sons wedding………yep another big week ahead. Stay tuned.

Weekend with the lot!

This weekend was jam-packed with a variety of things. Had a great cello lesson (practice does pay off), got home to find my husband had made great progress with painting the lounge-room, I opted to work outside because it was such a lovely day and he was also listening to the cricket (I am probably the worlds most avid hater of sport in any form!).

Went for Dulux curd full strength for the bottom section to add a little more tone to the room. Happy about that!

In the afternoon I started putting together my new Sproutwell Polycarbonate Greenhouse, after a few technical hitches (mainly due to my approach) I was underway. This construction will take shape over a few weeks as I have to fit it in between other more pressing jobs.

Now to get these to turn into one of these !
Should be a cinch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I managed to assemble the sliding door and window components, as well as the base so we can check whether we have to make some adjustments to where it is going to be located (and we do!). Next step is to get foundations set up properly and then it will be plain sailing till the final completion.

I often like to have a wander around our backyard (at the house we are selling) on a Sunday morning looking at all the bits and pieces in the garden and remember how far we have come with developing this back yard. I hope to be able to do this soon at the ‘new old house’.

Plenty of mulberries developing this year, such a beautiful fruit, tree and colour!

Time to do some bird protection!

Blueberries are becoming nice and fat and I can’t wait for them to ripen.

I have two varieties of blueberry, this is a much fatter fruit than the other. Shame I’ve lost the tags!
The smell of this transports me straight to tropics! Citrussy, Frangipani-ish, gardenia-ish and just beautiful-shame it doesn’t flower all year round!

 

Picked the last of the broad beans and a couple of beetroot. Not sure when I’ll get to process the beans!

I then moved onto the ‘new old house’, took a trailer load of scrap metal to the tip but also came home with an old frame from a sun shelter or such. The poles from these frames make good garden stakes and I just can’t see something go to waste!

I haven’t tried using beer snail bait traps for many years as when I used to put them out our dearly departed ‘Cossie’ the dog would quickly gobble up the beer. Poor old Cossie is no longer with us, so I’ll give the traps another shot. The snails and slugs in the potato bed are the worst I’ve ever encountered, I may have to think about borrowing a duck for a few weeks.

Probably should have used beer from a not so great batch of home brew rather than bought stuff!

Inspiration! Sat under the Mulberry Tree and had a beer!

Approx 30 years ago I moved from Melbourne to the West Gippsland, Latrobe Valley region and I have still not come to terms with the lack of fresh produce available. The wonderful movement that is gaining momentum across many regions with  farmers markets, fresh is best and limited food miles has been painfully slow in reaching here. The produce stocked in our local supermarket is disgraceful and it says a lot that people don’t demand better! As for stocking anything organic or that is produced by locals, forget it.  I only venture in there when absolutely desperate and tonight I wanted to add some zing to the hot potato salad I had planned and thought some nice chorizo would be ideal-should have known better!

Home made my giddy aunt! Who keeps that chemical stuff in their pantry?
Beetroot, broad beans, garlic, garlic stem, spuds, herbs, lettuce, silver beet. Bring it on!

Anyway, we ended up having a really nice dinner of a hot (warm) potato salad type thing. Part of the harvest  I picked today and needed to use was-some nice young spuds, silver beet, garlic stem, red onion, broad beans and some mint. I also had the amazing ‘homemade’ chorizo I purchased.

Method- Put chorizo on griddle/BBQ to cook, par boil spuds till a bit underdone, while cooking, chop up some red onion, green capsicum, mint, slice garlic stem, and finely slice some silver beet or spinach. If the broad beans need double peeling blanche and do this too (I don’t worry apart from really big ones). Put the onion, garlic stem, mint, capsicum into serving bowl ( I also had some ricotta spare so I threw that in too) and when spuds are at the ‘not quite cooked but very close stage’ turn off the heat and bung the beans and silver beet into the hot water with them so they just barely cook. Slice the chorizo,  drain the spuds, beans and silver beet and add to the serving bowl, top the salad with the chorizo and some more chopped mint if inclined, grind some salt & pepper and drizzle some good olive oil over (I used Splitter’s Creek Olive Oil). Serve with some sour cream on the side.

Very nice indeed!

I had planned to do a post on my 5 favourite garden tools but forgot to take any photos. Will keep that one for another day.

 

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.

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!

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!

Feel like we are getting off the ground-literally!

Today was a big step forward, the first of the wicking beds was started and the electrician came to discuss the rewiring of the house. We have been in limbo since purchasing the property and not able to do much until some basic upgrades such as reblocking and rewiring have been done. Unfortunately these are high price tag items and have had to wait until cash resources are available. We have been diligently squirrelling funds to enable us to get the rewiring done as it feels quite unsafe in its current (pardon the pun) state. Raspberry bed is finished and I planted out sixteen hollyhocks that I have started from seed saved from last years blooms (Very proud of that!).

We decided on wicking beds for a couple of reasons, elevated for easy access, easy to bird proof, shade cloth or poly covers can be added to cool or warm the beds as necessary and watering can be easily managed. The theory with wicking beds is that they work on much the same principle as the self watering pots you can buy but in a specially constructed bed so that a reservoir of water is available to plants as they need it. Evaporation is minimised and watering is kept to a minimum. For more detailed information on the construction and use of wicking beds visit http://www.urbanfoodgarden.org/. There is also a wealth of information here for living more sustainably and growing food for the table.