When I can’t be bothered-I should be! Plus week 4 exteno update. Baby awaits….

Today I did something I rarely do, and I mean rarely. I bought pre-prepared chicken ‘nibbles’ from the supermarket deli. These were labelled as being in an Indian marinade, ok, let’s try. I have been so under the pump lately I thought I’d give them a shot. I know I’m a bit fussy when it comes to food,  but I won’t do it again. I had harvested some of our beautiful, beans, potatoes, lettuce, eggplant, last of the broccoli, garlic and had the last of last year’s pumpkin and sweet potato that needed to be used so I thought a chicken salad with roasted veggies would be nice.

HarvestI roasted a red capsicum, last weeks eggplant, potatoes, sweet potato, a zucchini, pumpkin and a head of garlic. I then cooked the chicken, tore up the lettuce zapped the broccoli and beans for a minute in the microwave. I made a dressing by blending the roasted eggplant, roasted garlic and some greek yogurt plus a little of the roast capsicum. The vegetables and chicken were  assembled on my favourite turkish bowl and dressed with the sauce before eating.

IMG_3402Loved the veggies but I wasn’t thrilled that I’d taken a shortcut buying this chicken. For so called Indian flavour there was a lot of coconut milk and not much else.

4 weeks in to the exteno.

Well, the exteno has been going great guns. Thrilled with our builder and his team, this makes the whole process so much more enjoyable and less stressful. Unfortunately we are hitting that time of year when everything stops for a while. The frame is pretty much done,

exteno frame


















The side verandah brick pier has been bricked and the column that was on the rear verandah has been reused on this new section.



















A fairly large portion of the eave lining has been done.

Timber eave lining


















There has been a lot of site clean up, covers put on the lining so it isn’t as exposed to the elements and old flooring from side veranda removed to make way for replacing. We just have to wait patiently now for the New Year so it can hopefully continue in the same positive way.

And speaking of waiting…..

This time 29 years ago we were watching an Elton John Concert following one of the funniest ever Hey Hey it’s Saturday episodes. It was an anxious time awaiting the arrival of our first baby, due to be born on the 15th December 1986. At 2.07am on the 15th December I went into labour and later in the day our beautiful baby girl came into our life and stole our hearts. She has been there since that moment and we now await the birth of her first baby due on 3rd January. I am so proud of her (and the other 2, have to be fair!!!) and if she’d given me permission, I’d stick a photo up but I haven’t had the go ahead so I will put up a picture of the nursery that awaits some little person to fill its spaces and I’m sure my daughters and husband’s hearts as she did ours. Happy birthday Embo, Love you to bits!

NurseryUpdate, here is the beautiful mum to be!




First week in to the exteno.

It’s been one week since the work on our reno began in earnest. Before we visit there, this photo of some lovely fresh parsley and spring onions is just to prove that not everything is completely covered in dust and the whole place isn’t looking like a bomb site.

I must admit when I came out to view the status of works happening early in the week, I was so grateful that this disruption was our choice and not due to the horrific injustices our European Earth Sharers have been subjected to. Too many opinions, too many comments, too many differences. I am not adding to the mix. We are lucky indeed.

This is a summary of what’s happened this week.

The demolition of all the back sections has been completed,


The concrete had been removed. Big job!



The plumbing pipework has been roughed in.IMG_2945IMG_2950

The first official part of getting a kitchen! This pipe is  where the sinks will drain into. Yes, a sink with running water! How modern and posh is that? How excited am I? VERY!

IMG_2964The wood fire stove has been removed by a really spunky young plumber. (It’s Ok, that’s my son, no harassment here).

thumb_IMG_0281_1024This leaves a chimney opening we need to deal with. Will be decorative something or another.



















Just another thing for the list.

So happy we have come this far. What will next week present?



Down she comes and some past is revealed.

Well, I never thought I’d see the day. Three long years we have waited to begin our ‘exteno’ (that’s what I’m going to label the renovation come extension). Delays in selling a property necessary to fund the project meant we just had to be patient and wait. Well, the waiting is over. Here is the official start of our project.

The boys arrived on Tuesday and got straight into demolishing the old sections of the property. These old outbuildings that within were the washhouse and woodshed with the dunny tucked around the corner, just too far gone to be salvaged.

The white room is a sixties addition of a bedroom,


but that’s gone too now.

The back door has been temporarily swung round into the hall so we can maintain security. How lovely it is to get some natural light in and to be able to see right down the passageway to outside.

Passage with lightThe house was originally weatherboard and has at some stage  been rendered with lime plaster. The builder was amazed at how strong the render is and had ‘fun’ removing it.


Here’s a peek at where the old weatherboards were covered over with render.


Well look here! This is what the original back of the house would have looked like apart from the kitchen window originally being small. Because the render was so tough to remove (it was set in chicken wire) the builder removed it as a separate process first. We cannot believe these original cedar weatherboards are still intact under the render.


I think it looks better already!


It does of course mean that not only do I have a kitchen set up in a bedroom, I also have a laundry set up in the shed! It works, I’m OK with that. Stay tuned for regular updates.



Baguettes, Walhalla, Boots, Bottles, Books and Birds.

Been a bit slow on posts recently, think the horrid weather has had a bit to do with this. I haven’t been outside much nor have I been doing a great amount inside. I have managed to read a few good books though!

Today we spent a bit of time marking out with chalk the intended design and placement of some equipment for the new kitchen. I am useless at reading plans and always complain that the finished result is not what I thought it was going to be and that nothing is where I expected it.

IMG_2251-001I dare say that even after doing this I will still get surprises!

Walhalla Road Trip

We took advantage of the lovely sunshiny day last Saturday and headed up to the historic township of Walhalla. This place just oozes history (and spookiness) and it was a great chance to spend some time with my son who now lives in Melbourne. He purchased a Land Rover a few months ago and does ‘weekend adventures’ visiting lots of interesting places.


I managed to throw together some small egg and bacon pies, kale, feta, chilli and potato rolls. A chocolate cake from the freezer and a few freshly picked oranges from our tree to have as  picnic fare. This along with  freshly boiled billy tea is about all you need I think!

IMG_2104IMG_2202While we were eating, there were a few different birds in the scrub and I noticed a green bird that I thought resembled a green cat bird which I know are more northern based . There was also a bowerbird with it so I wasn’t that surprised when I’d Googled to discover the green bird is a juvenile Satin Bowerbird. Check out those purple eyes!

Saton bowerbird
Satin bowerbird

Just beautiful!

Hidden Treasures

Part of our extension/reno means we have to demolish a couple of the oldest parts of the property. We’ve tried but there is just no justifiable way we can preserve them. I believe these 2 rooms to be the old washhouse and  would guess the woodstore. We are going to rebuild to be similar visually but they certainly won’t have the ‘charm’ of these old ones. We found a few interesting things behind the wall lining!


Several empty beer bottles tucked in her and there,




A couple old books, one a medical reference and the other a novel.

IMG_2219-001 IMG_2218-001




A pair of old boots, very old I’d guess! Hand cut leather and hand stitched.

IMG_2223-002There was also a few rat nests but I didn’t think you’d enjoy me sharing those with you!

This weekend’s Bread bake

Today I made baguettes using the gas pizza oven to bake. I was so impressed with the ‘before they went into the oven’ appearance, then promptly dropped the peel when transferring them to the oven. Never mind, still turned out well, albeit a little misshapen and a few holes lighter up one end. I also did a spelt/whole-wheat loaf. Have no idea what it is meant to be like but it smells great and looks like others I have Googled, so I’ll go with it’s pretty good! 🙂

IMG_2263-001 Baguette crumb shot


Getting snuggly!

We’ve finally bitten the bullet and commenced work on the room that was originally the doctor’s surgery. We’ve labelled this room the snug. We haven’t been able to decide on colours and we are not likely to any time soon, so we’ve just picked one out of a hat and are going with it.

When we bought this house this room was still set up ready for patients who were brave enough, complete with lots of glass bottles, surgical instruments and used morphine vials.


We removed the gas heater and opened up the fireplace, lifted the mouldy, damp and rotten floor coverings, took out the sink and have been using the room as our winter ‘snug’. This room gets the most natural light of any in the house and it is quite cosy for just the two of us to use, particularly in winter.

Dado panelling has been removed and the walls are being insulated where we can. We had planned on removing all the plaster board and fully insulating but that will have to wait. Seems more ridiculous to waste perfectly good wall coverings at this stage. All the gaps that we can find are being filled to reduce drafts and heat loss/entry. Hopefully some noise reduction will also be achieved.


We’ve  covered the floor boards with cardboard to prevent damage from paint and the mobile scaffolding unit we rely on for all our renovation work. The colour we are going to paint is a big secret. No, it’s not green! Mostly secret just in case I hate it and feel the need to send Mr ATMT back up the scaffold to change it. It already feels more snuggly!

I also started cleaning up the cedar doors with the same treatment I used on the skirting boards. So far it looks very promising that they will come up well.

This is a section of the first door before getting at it with metho, steel wool and sandpaper. The second shot is after a clean up and one coat of tung oil applied. We have a little  problem with one of the infills. It appears that at some stage the panel had been kicked in (disgruntled patient?) and replaced very shoddily with ply wood. See the difference in second photo, top left. Apart from that I’m really pleased about its rejuvenation. The natural colour of red cedar is stunning!

IMG_9565 IMG_9587

A couple more coats and its will be ready to rehang. Only 7 doors to go after that!





Sausages, sourdough and sealing drafts.

We have our son’s engagement party coming up next weekend so I’ve been madly baking savoury goodies whenever I get the opportunity to use an oven. There are lots of family staying locally so we have extended an invitation to come to our place for a BBQ lunch on Sunday. Keeping it simple, as I probably will be quite tired from the party the night before. Just planning on some home made sausages, some nice steak, a vegetarian option and some fresh salads and potato salad (I make a mean potato salad I’m told!). First batch of sausages since we did our sausage making class at Tarraleah last month. Very nervous but I reckon a couple of shots and it will be quite easy. I chose a pork, caramelised onion and apple recipe as a first trial. Cut the pork into chunks and removed all the scrappy bits.

IMG_6116Calculated 15% of pork weight and measured that amount in pork fat.IMG_6117IMG_6119 Got Mr ATMT onto caramelising the onions in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar while I peeled and grated some granny smith apples. Picked some parsley and oregano and chopped finely. Put the pork and fat through the meat grinder using the large size cutting plate.IMG_6135Added the caramelised onions, apple and herbs and garlic, mixed really well then put it back through the grinder with the medium size cutting plate this time. Ready to stuff, so far so good. At this point I did cook up a couple of small patties to check flavour for seasoning and taste. I had called into the Yarragon market just before it closed and they were selling the last of Cannibal Creek’s Sour dough at half price. Couldn’t resist buying a loaf so I could compare how mine stacked up. Cannibal Creek is a bakery I must get to visit, fully renovated Scotch wood fired oven and I really like their philosophy on how they do things. My bread’s on the left, CC’s on the right and mine is a week old – looking mighty fine I think. I will concede though that the Cannibal Creek had a much more complex flavour to it and was a better crust. Bet if I had a big wood fired oven instead of a Sunbeam bake N grill it would help a bit! IMG_6137 The sample sausage patties cooked up beautifully and were eaten on toast for lunch with my pickled cucumbers and the wonderful Thorpdale Organics lettuce and some home made tomato sauce. Beats a Bunnings snag anyday!IMG_6147All ok to proceed with this sausage mix so here it gets exciting! We bought a sausage stuffer machine while sitting around the campfire in Tasmania and it was on the verandah on our return. Love shopping like that! Now, how to manage the natural sausage casings?They come packed in salt,IMG_6114 You need to soak them in water to reconstitute and soften before using.IMG_6115 Mr ATMT on the job! This was actually the hardest past of the whole process.IMG_6167Success! Couple of little air pockets and only one burst casing. IMG_6164 A few twists, left overnight to dry out and settle and they went into the freezer. It’s a great feeling knowing we can serve these up and I know exactly what has gone into them.IMG_6169Sealing drafts

While working on the hall I was quite aware of the breeze coming up from under the house through some rather large gaps. We will eventually be insulating under the house but I didn’t want the skirtings put back in place with such massive entry points for breezes. Cut some insulation bats into strips and ‘caulked’ up the gaps. Every little bit counts!IMG_6172

A Serene Spot to Sit.

Mr ATMT is working on paving a nice little spot out the back under the mulberry tree. We find we tend to naturally gather ion this spot on a hot day. It will also fit my hammock beautifully, that’s important!IMG_6150

A before and after.

The work we have been doing in the hall is starting to come together. We have removed wall mounted strip heaters, replaced plaster on the ceiling, painted, had the timber floor boards replaced where necessary and polished. Removed swing doors from the entry foyer and also the glass window that was above them replacing it with some simple fretwork. A large 1960’s boring cupboard has been removed from the small alcove section which is now a highlight of the passage. All the channels in the old timber panelling have been filled, sanded and smoothed. Anaglypta wallpaper has been hung and painted. Jobs still to do are, finish rejuvenating the timber on the architraves and front door, design and install a leadlight window for the front door and choose and install light fittings.

Passage before IMG_6176

Getting there I think, I certainly hope so!





Espaliers, skirting boards and spring pasta.

We have at long last commenced the fence around the veggie patch. We are going for a rustic paling look across the front and on the gate but along the back it is just posts with ‘reo’ attached so I can use the steel as framing for espaliers, beans and other things as needed. I got to plant the fig which has been in a pot since we bought it at the Castlemaine market the Easter before last. This may be quite a hot spot so hopefully the fig should do well. Not sure about the root system, but what the hell! I’d already started training it to a ‘U’ Goblet shape and hope I get some side shoots soon so I can train it to spread across as well as up.IMG_5168I’ve also planted 2 apples along this fence. With another 2 planted along the front patch fence which I will train as step over apples, (photos when that fence is completed). This means they are varieties which have been grafted onto unusually dwarf rootstock so you can keep them small and manageable.IMG_5169I’ll train the granny Smith as a double cordon style shape like this photo below. Mine certainly won’t cover as much space as this but I want to demonstrate what you can achieve in small spaces with fruit trees.espaliers-2013-13-620x416

Now to the walls on the inside!

I have spent some time this weekend working on the hallway. I managed to finish hanging the wallpaper and started work on restoring the 8″ cedar or Australian pine (not sure which or what the difference in fact is ). It would be so tempting to just paint these or even go and get new, fresh, perfectly recreated mouldings made from craft wood or pine but these babies have been here since the house was built and I like the scars they show and the story they tell. I wonder how many of the scuff marks are from people who were quite nervous (justified I’m led to believe) about going into the doctors for a procedure or checkup. This is the starting point, the boards have been sealed or varnished over the years with a quite dark finish. They are terribly scuffed and we’ve had to glue quite a few together in places.

IMG_6094I started by going over the boards with metho to break down the finish (luckily we found a couple of 10 gallon /20 litre) drums of metho in the stables when we moved in. Doctors obviously bought their metho in bulk! IMG_6095This along with a scourer to help dissolve the finish, washed and a final sanding using steel wool and they are looking much happier. Love that grain!IMG_6096The first coat of Tung Oil, and I’m really pleased with how they are coming up. They still show many dents, scuffs, splits. holes and dings. I’m quite OK with that! They don’t actually look quite that red which is good. Another sand with steel wool, another coat and they should be good to put back in place. I’m keeping the unveiling of the hall until it’s just about finished.IMG_6097

Spring pasta.

We are starting to get much better harvests now that the soil has warmed and the sun has been out a bit more. (I nearly stupidly said “now that we have more sun because of daylight saving”, but that would have been silly). Dinner last night was an easy pasta dish. I walked around and picked a young garlic plant that was growing in the way of something else. Young garlic delivers a subtle flavour to a dish without overpowering it. I also picked some young asparagus, thai basil, oregano, parsley and chervil.IMG_5183 Now don’t get excited but I also picked, yes, broad beans. A whole tablespoon full. We love broad beans and have been anxiously waiting on a harvest as they are very late this year. IMG_5185A couple of leeks, some broccoli I’d frozen before we went away, along with these herbs, some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms and it was lovely light dinner. IMG_5189



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