Sunday, July 29, 2012

Matchsticks To Keep Eyes Open

We had a challenge to accomplish the week.  Up to now we've not had tv reception here, because we didn't want to spend a lot of money on an aerial for the shed and then again for the house later.  So we decided to rewatch our collection of DVDs instead and do without tellie.  Which has been fine up to now.  But, we are great fans of the Olympics so what to do? $10 of cable later, along with a piece of stormwater pipe, an old wooden picket, some cable ties, an old set of bunny ears and a handy water tank to attach it to, we have television!

Da-ta!  Home-made aerial.  Note there is only one bunny ear, the other one fell off!  Made no difference to the picture either.
And there we have it, we are in the modern era of television.  We've managed to pick up analog stations WIN, GWN and ABC1, snowy and rather unpredictable in the wind, but acceptable.  I am so happy we can now watch the Olympics, although I have to say that I am rather tired, being one of those silly people that likes to see things happen WHEN they happen, none of this sensible replay stuff for me!
 Do you remember all those olives we pickled a couple of months ago?  We've started eating them in the last week and they are very nice!  Still a trace of bitterness in a few but on the whole very good.  They will get better the longer they sit in the brine/vinegar too.  The preserved lemons I made are ready too and I was pleased to see that this time I wasn't left with a hideous jar of multicoloured mould but instead a lovely jar of bright yellow salted lemons.  I thought I would celebrate by cooking Moroccan Chicken which uses both olives and preserved lemons.  Served with fat couscous (thanks Michelle).  It wasn't bad although perhaps the flavours are a bit strong for my liking.  Steve would have liked it except I put chopped coriander in it, which is not his favourite taste, but I wasn't sure if I could get away with not putting it in.  In hindsight I should have put in extra parsley.  Will remember for next time.
Speaking of food, the magenpies have been very demanding this week.  We haven't seen them for a few weeks but suddenly they are turning up a couple of times a day, warbling outside the door.  One in particular is very tame and will eat out of my hand.  He thinks he runs the place, having parked himself on a pole right outside the shed window, watching us doing stuff inside, not quite believing that we haven't rushed out to give him his rolled oats IMMEDIATELY!
 We are eating heaps and heaps of broccolini, which is great as we both love it.  It grows so much better than ordinary broccoli in my humble opinion, we get to pick a good serving every three days.  It seems to have less of a bug issue than broccoli too, I think it's because the small heads are not tightly packed with buds so there are not as many places for bugs to hide.  Anyway, it is yummy! :-)
We planted a gazillion snow pea and sugar snap pea seeds and the plants are growing nicely.  Very pleased to see the first flowers starting to appear.  I love nothing more than wandering in a vegie garden snacking on pea pods straight off the plant.
The broad bean plants have gone mental too, and are covered in flowers.  I'm a bit confused about them though as they don't seem to be forming any pods yet.  Perhaps it's not warm enough. 
I have a gnarled old blueberry plant in a big pot, I think I've grown it for about 6 years now.  It's a funny plant, looks half dead all the time but it certainly spits out a good crop of blueberries for a pot grown plant.  I am looking forward to getting it into the ground this year but not just yet as Steve is going to build an enclosed berry growing area so the little birdies can't scoff them all.  So the blueberry sits in its pot outside the shed and has suddenly decided that it's time to fruit up (bit early, but this is a plant that does whatever it damn well feels like).  I will tempt fate and leave it uncovered and observe what happens re little birdies...
The house is coming along nicely, the team have started putting the roofing sheets up and have also started putting on the Hardie board wall sheets.  Here is a shot of the verandah roof.  Look at those lovely painted beams, don't they look pristine.  We are so grateful we got the chance to get them painted before the roofing sheets went up, can you imagine having to cut in up against all those wavy bits on the roofing!
This is the back corner of the house, where they've put up a lot of the wall sheets.  We still have to paint those but we paid a bit extra and chose ones that were preprimed so we only have two coats to do.  The eaves are exposed and again, very happy to have been able to paint the beams before the roofing went on, much easier.
Here's a shot from down the hill showing the progress.  The builders are hoping to get the rest of the roof on this week and hopefully finish the walls too.  Steve has been busily digging stormwater trenches and attaching downpipes so any rain on the new roof doesn't degrade the sand pad.  He's got all the pipes temporarily connected together and a long pipe going off downhill for any rain to run off.  The plumber will be doing the pipework for water to the house soon so Steve and he will share a trench for the pipes to and from the tank.

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Brussels Sprout

Phew, it's been a busy 10 days painting every piece of wood in sight, but all the exterior roofing timber has now had a trillion coats of paint and is looking very nice indeed.  We borrowed the builder's trestles and planks over the weekend and finished off the beams that were put up unpainted, plus touched up the ones we had already painted that had got a bit battered in the construction process.  Plus there were dirty fingermarks on the lovely off-white battens!  Imagine that! Quick touch-up and they are looking lovely. :-)

The house is coming along nicely, perhaps a little slower than expected but we have the rain to contend with.  No roof as yet, but the house is now covered with pretty blue sisalation which I gather provides a moisture barrier of sorts.  On top of the sisalation they will attach the Hardie boards.  Then we get to paint the Hardie board, oh joy.  Actually I am looking forward to painting with a new colour.  Anyway, here we have the back of the house....
 And the front of the house....
  Looking along the front of the house which gives an idea of the verandah area....
Looking through our bedroom window.....
One of the interesting things about living on-site is that we are more involved with the construction of the house than normal, simply because we are there to give answers when an opportunity presents itself.  The builder wandered over to Steve and told him they had a few pieces of short timber left over, and did we know where we were going to hang any paintings in the house, because if we did he would be more than happy to bolt these bits of timber between the studs so we could put screws through to the timber later.

Steve, fortunately for him, thought twice.... first he was going to say not to worry about it to the builder, but then good sense prevailed and Steve said he would ask his wife.  Well!  I ran around like a mad thing from skeletal room to skeletal room, trying to imagine artwork on walls.  But I got into the swing of it in the end, and the builder, who by now may have regretted opening his mouth, had to bolt 13 timbers up for me.  :-) Next thing will be to remember where they are!  I have taken measurements and photos so hopefully we will find them after the gyprock is installed.
 The end of a day's work entails a glass of wine.  This photo is especially for Anne who thinks our end of day wine is much more interesting than her end of day glass of wine.  Cheers Anne!
The finale to our timber painting was to have a big bonfire of some of the tree detritus lying around.  People may think this is a puny bonfire, but we are gradually building up to bigger and bigger ones, getting used to the power of fire.  We as the new people on the block, do not want to be the ones responsible for burning down the neighbourhood.  So we amassed leaves and branches in the middle of the paddock, and armed ourselves with rakes and hoses, then put a match to it.
Yeehar, pyromania heaven! It burned in a very orderly fashion as there was no wind, and there is virtually nothing left now.  Fires are lovely to watch eh.
Here is a photo of a fabulous dinner Steve made the other night.  Beef courtesy of Drovers Pastoral Company down here, and the potatoes, cabbage, broccolini and ONE brussels sprout each are all out of our garden.  It was delicious.

We had one brussels sprout each because they are still very small on the plant, I am perfectly happy to eat baby vegetables, however Steve doesn't part with his home grown vegies readily, they have to have grown to gigantor proportions first.  I stamped my foot and finally he relented and let me have one - ONE.  It was very nice.  LOL
I made pumpkin soup the following day (courtesy of a road-side stall), and with the leftover pumpkin I had a go at making pumpkin scones in the barbeque.  I cooked them squashed up together in my big Scan Pan pot (best thing I ever bought BTW, very versatile piece of equipment) as it is a heavy pot and things cooked in the barbeque have a habit of burning underneath.
They turned out great!  Yum Yum Yum with butter.  They didn't last long.  
I'm still toodling along doing a bit of knitting.  Check this out.  Looks ridiculous doesn't it, sort of like a giant bootee.  It is a bed slipper.  I wanted something to put on my feet if I was sitting on the bed with my feet up and this pattern looked interesting, and was straightforward enough for an idiot like me to follow.
What do you think?  They are very comfortable.  I'm knitting the second one at the moment so for now I have one warm foot.
Whilst all this was going on, we noticed a couple of new feathered visitors - ducks!  They have been popping in for a new days now, patrolling the paddock and around the outer edge of the vegie garden, scoffing bugs or whatever.  I must look up what variety they are.   (Update - they are Wood Ducks I think)
The wonderful end to an insane painting period was this spectacular sunset.  Glorious.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Paint Paint Paint Paint Paint

The builder gave us the opportunity over the weekend to paint some of the roof beams that will be visible under the verandah, before he puts them up.  Very kind of him as it is a lot easier to paint them lined up on trestles rather than up on ladders fiddling with them up against wavy colorbond roofing.  But we were unprepared for this and hadn't even chosen our colours yet!  In the end we have played it safe and stuck to the colorbond colour range, mainly because it is a council requirement that our house colours are conducive to the environment, ie, it is meant to blend in to the landscape.  We had already chosen the colorbond for the roof and had gone with "Bushland" which is a grey/green colour.  "Surfmist" for the verandah timbers, and the biggest decision, "Paperbark" for the house exterior, ie, the Hardieboard.
 
 So, on Friday afternoon, after flying into Bunnings and buying mega paint, we ran around like crazy people setting up trestles all over the place.  The fact it was raining didn't help, so I even had to share my bedroom area with planks of wood!
 Thankfully, Saturday proved to be a sunny day with about 10 minutes of misty drizzle and nothing more.  So we worked like demons painting timbers.
 
Steve also worked on metal beams that go along the front of the verandah.  First they had to be etch primed, then painted.
 
Today we awoke well and truly stuffed.  It rained all morning so we were let off any more labour, so we drove back to Bunnings and bought more paint.  In the afternoon it cleared up so we gave the metal an extra coat.  We ummed and ahhed over giving the wooden beams a third coat but decided against it for the moment.  The issue was that the blue stuff they treat the beams with was coming through the light coloured paint.  It's almost gone with the second coat but there is still the odd streak slyly peeping through.  We've decided to touch up when the beams are up, if it's bothering us.

On a visitor note, we had the pleasure of the company for half a day of Doug and Jenny.  Great to see you both!
I was very pleased with morning tea, isn't it pretty.  I pulled up half of my baby beetroot, cooked them up and blitzed them with greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and salt to make a yummy beetroot dip.  Crunchy broccoli stems from the vegie patch for dipping, along with some shopbought_but_very_nice carrots.  A few Ritz crackers made up the plate.  It was yum!
 
 I had a couple of days in Perth recently and thoroughly enjoyed catching up with the sewing ladies, Angie, Wilma, Leanne and Anne, for lunch.  Have I mentioned that I am going to name our chooks after these dear  ladies?  What fun eh. :-)
 On a final note, Steve took this lovely morning photo of the local beach, with mist sitting on top of the water.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blink And Half The House Appears

Well!  It was only the other day I was singing the praises of concrete, but that is waaaaay in the past now.
On Wednesday we heard the thrum in the distance of a large truck, a semi in fact.  And on that semi was half our house, in flat packs! The truckies had a discussion about the best way to get into our place, which has a long driveway surrounded by huge trees, and eventually they decided to reverse in.
 Tight squeeze!
 Mid-driveway conference about the best way to negotiate a bend.
 Phew, they made it by the skin of their teeth!
 Isn't it amazing how small a squished up house can be.
 I love how our name is plastered all over the bits and pieces.
 The semi came equipped with a nifty crane, essential for unloading all the gear.
 We expected that to be it for the day, but no, the builders started work straight away!  Here are the wall frames of the back rooms up within the hour.
 By the end of the day just look at what the 2 builders achieved!  All the wall frames were up.  This is the  front of the house.
 And this is the back of the house.  The next day was spent bolting all these frames to the concrete pad.
 And this is what the 3 builders did today, all these roof bits (trusses? rafter? no idea what they are called) are up.
 This is the front of the house.  We can't believe how big it looks, and it doesn't even have the verandah section along the front done yet.
 And the back of the house.
 And a view of how it's all going from down the hill.  It's all terribly exciting!  We keep wandering through the skeleton of the house, glass of wine in hand, after the builders have gone home.  :-)