Thursday, 17 December 2015

Arranging and rearranging

This dresser (art deco, found in an op shop, painstaking stripped of multiple layers of ceiling white) has been our main piece of kitchen storage furniture since we moved in.  But it really doesn't hold a lot.

So it's been sold.  Which means it needs to be emptied and huffed and puffed out of the house.


This will form part of its replacement.  The other bit is much prettier!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Another transformation

When the reinventors moved into Marmalade Cottage, this back bit of the house was a kitchen of sorts.  It was so disgusting most of it went straight into a skip, and the reinventors put a sink and stove and such into the original kitchen.
This bit got left as a storage room/passage to the sewing room, but with the cold water sink.
The sink was moderately useful for washing dirt off vegetables or paint off brushes.  The rats that moved in last summer found it a useful entryway and nest.  
Finally the sink is going and the space will be far more useful.
We definitely needed expert help with this.  Once the sink was gone and the wall behind reinstated, the area needed plumbing and some useful stuff fitted.

This is as far as we got in a day.  You can't see the plumbing, trust us there's now hot water and washing machine fittings.
The reinventors are going to have a go at tiling that unfinished bit of floor (how hard can it be?!), and then the bench will have a cabinet end put on it, a big hole cut in it and a sink and shiny new taps installed. Then there is space for some shelves or a cupboard, and the front loader to fit neatly under the bench.
It'll be a proper, indoor laundry!
The only downside seems to be that we won't be able to put the greywater from the washing machine on our tiny patch of lawn/green weeds under the Hills Hoist.

The filthy, rat-poo infused, broken sink unit went out on hard rubbish.  And was snaffled by someone with lots of ambition within a couple of hours.  I guess it did have its original bakelite handles, but still...

Sunday, 29 November 2015

This took too long

Whenever the back verandah of Marmalade Cottage was filled in to create more indoor space, the builder (who wasn't too sure on the concepts of level, plumb, or square) used what pretty much every house of its day used: louvres.

They let air and light in, but you can't see through them when closed and they're most definitely not secure.
Louvres being removed

So we finally got them removed.  All five banks of them.

And put in a real window.  Which is secure and provides much better vision and air-flow.  And cost $50 off Gumtree.  Hopefully someone will want the old louvres, otherwise, it's hard rubbish collection week and they'll go on the pile.

The reinventors are particularly pleased that they're now compliant with their house insurance...

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

When life hands you mulberries

Make mulberry gin!

That's it on the left.  And there's the Practical Reinventor sieving passionfruit for strawberry passionfruit gin.

Strawberry passionfruit gin on the left.  We'll leave them to mature for a bit.  They should be wonderful with soda on a hot afternoon.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


Oh the relief.

That's five large garbage bags of stuff that we don't use.  So it's gone.

Who needs KonMari?  We just got ruthless.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

She barely squeaked when she landed awkwardly catching a stick

The Reinventors knew when they adopted Jodie the Neuriotic Kelpie that kelpies tend to tear cruciate ligaments.

So she has health insurance, where the Reinventors are happy to rely on Medicare.

And it's a good thing.

She's torn her cruciate ligament.

Surgery next week.


Monday, 28 September 2015

Goodbye Marion

September has been a bastard of a month.

Aside from considerations of bills, middle-aged aches and caterpillars destroying the lettuces, the second-last of our original chooks, Marion, got sick.  We thought she was just broody.

She was looking bloated and hormonal and refusing to get off the nesting basket.

So we picked her up and took her outside, made sure she got water, the usual things you do for a chook you do not want to be broody.

But last Sunday, the Practical Reinventor was outside gardening and noticed two other chooks and the kelpie sitting with her.

Just sitting with her.

The sun started to set and the other chooks headed back into the pen.  Marion did not.

We took her in and settled her on the roost. 

Not 10 minutes later there was a desperate flapping, and then silence.

She died.

Just like that.

She's buried with Joan and Joyce under the mulberry tree.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


This climate change lark (should that be accorded capital letters?  Is it a proper noun?) isn't fun.

Exhibit A: the lemon tree.

It has, simultaneously, mature fruit, juvenile fruit and blossom.

The poor tree hasn't had its traditional rest over winter.  Largely because winter hasn't happened.  There's been a bit of rain.  It's been a bit cool.  But winter - nope.

The other citrus are suffering similarly, but it's most noticeable on the lemon.  The poor mulberry hadn't even lost its leaves before it was bursting forth with juvenile fruit.

We also feel sorry for the bees who are as busy as they are in spring and summer.

Friday, 21 August 2015

The perfect thing.

There's been some decluttering at Marmalade Cottage of late.

The Practical Reinventor is thoroughly sick of the 1930s furniture that came with the house.  It's lovely Art Moderne, but too modern for a lady of 1917, who's more suited to Art Nouveau, or at a pinch Art Deco.

So it was out with this:

Which is a fairly large sideboard that had seen better days.  There had been plans to sand it back and revarnish...

Anyway, the Creative Reinventor's mum was delighted to load it up, take it to her workshop and lavish the shabby chic treatment on it.

In its place we have this:

A very simple telephone table with storage - that little drawer and a box under the seat.

And this detail:

Much more appropriate to the era of the house.  Also not in perfect condition, so it fits in beautifully.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

A gentle parting of ways

It's taken a week for this post to compose itself.

Grief does that.

Our lovely Maremma (Italian sheepdog) Maddie, she of the long legs and platinum blonde coat, is no more.

We think she had a stroke on the flight over to come to join our family 16 months ago.  She was always a bit wobbly.

Then she collapsed last week, possibly after having another stroke.

She was in obvious distress, panting, licking her nose, not able to stand or sit comfortably, not even wanting water.

We did the compassionate thing.

The Practical Reinventor held her as the vet put her to sleep.  Heartbreaking.

She's buried in the front garden of Marmalade Cottage.  Heaven knows what the neighbours thought if they'd seen us digging a large hole in the dark with tears running down our faces.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Saturday morning

The sun is shining outside, no doubt the chooks are respectfully enquiring after their breakfast.

The superannuated Italian sheepdog is snoozing in the hall and the neurotic kelpie is snoozing at the Practical Reinventor's feet.

Breakfast has been had and the Creative Reinventor has been at the coffee roastery for more than an hour dispensing caffeine, which is the nearest thing to happiness made tangible.

Rage has finished off with ABBA.

The reinventors are going to dinner tonight with dear friends, which requires the making of a birthday present and card.  What does one make (or even buy if inspiration does not strike) the gentleman who has everything?  Wine, while appreciated, does rather lack imagination.

And there is housework to be done. 

Friday, 3 July 2015

Re-evaluations and starting again.

So things just went stupid for a bit there. 

The Creative Reinventor is managing local council stuff, too many people asking for extra-hot coffee (don't.  Just don't) and increasing wholesale orders for his magnificently roasted coffee.

The Practical Reinventor, who had been doing the catering in a leased commercial kitchen suddenly found the Person-To-Whom-She-Was-Paying-Rent showing her true colours and they weren't pretty.

Then the reinventors did the sums and reluctantly, the Practical Reinventor went back to work.  Luckily there were two pleasant contracts in the offing, with a week off in between.

And now...

Who knows?

The catering business is officially dead - there's no money in food.  Unless you're a celebrity chef with a cookbook contract.

Meanwhile, the garlic is thriving, the broad beans have just started blooming, and the poor citrus trees have ripe fruit, blossom and juvenile fruit.  Which would be the effect of climate change.  Exhausting.

In among the hard decisions, we decided that since the feijoa tree had had four years to produce, and hadn't, it had failed its probation.  It's been replaced with a lime, and there's a cumquat squeezed into one of the chook exclusion zones.

Monday, 25 May 2015


The Marmalade Cottage chooks get to free range pretty much every day.  They're pretty feisty girls, and this is not compatible with growing vegetables.

This is our new improved chook exclusion zone.  It's a bit bigger than its previous incarnation and a whole lot neater.

Thelma made the mistake of wandering in where she's not wanted and got cuddled for her trouble.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

The end of summer

The reinventors consider if the majority of the garden makes out of summer alive, that's success.  Summer in Perth is brutal.  Long, teeth-achingly hot, dry and unpleasant.

It's not a nice heat, it drains one, there are rarely summer rains to break up the unbearable, shimmering blue of the sky and everyone gets crotchety.

The chooks pant and lose their feathers, egg production drops (who could blame them?), the dogs search for shade and cool spots on tiles, the cat whinges if the air-con isn't set at arctic.

The people just complain and sweat and endure.

But summer appears to be waning.  Most of the garden has survived.  Unlike many chook-owners we know, our whole flock survived, and there are new green shoots in the gardens.

The self-sown garlic is already growing strongly, so we've planted several dozen extra cloves with more planned.  Ordinarily garlic wouldn't go in until ANZAC day, but nature is telling us it's time.

The deciduous trees are confused, not sure whether to lose their leaves.  We shall refrain from pruning them for another month or so.

It might even rain tomorrow.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Nothing to worry about, then.

Last year, the practical reinventor managed to get stung by a bee twice.  And twice she had a serious reaction.  Lots of red and itchy and swollen, to the point she grumpily conceded there might an issue, and said issue should be dealt with.

The dealing-with involved a GP visit, a referral to an allergy specialist, then a five-month wait for the privilege of paying $400.

Which is a little unfair, but still.

So yesterday was the long-awaited visit to the allergy specialist, in a converted house in one of Perth's more soulless suburbs.

He drew a grid on her arm, applied various venoms, pricked the skin, and we sat back to watch what happened.

Turns out she's allergic to bee stings (hmm...) but not to other bitey/sting-y things.  And allergic in little more than an uncomfortable/annoying manner.  Although it does look rather dramatic.

Nothing life-threatening.  No need for panic or an epi-pen.

So that's that, then.

The bee hive can remain in the back garden, and so long as there are antihistamines, cortisone and ice on hand, all should be well.

But really, she should just avoid being stung.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

On the logic of dogs frightened out of their wits

It's one of those Perth things, it hardly ever rains here, so when it does, it's quite an event.

There have been summer storms over the last week.  Proper storms with thunder and lightning.

The dogs have been beside themselves.  Trembling and clinging to the reinventors' ankles at considerable risk of tripping, kicking and stepping on paws.

During the day, the reinventors have been out doing what they do, and the dogs have been deputised to take care of the house, chooks and cat.  Ordinarily this arrangement works in a most tickety-boo manner. 

Except for the storms. 

Day One, the Practical Reinventor got home to find one dog missing, but only a whistle away, and the other home but sheepish and with great scrapes on either side of its face.

The red dog, being skinnier, had gotten though the gap at the bottom of the gate.  The white dog musts have gotten painfully caught and wrenched itself free.  If there was blood, the rain washed it all away.


The next day, the white dog was still in the yard, and there was no sign of the red dog.  Then the phone rang.  The red dog had managed to get out, cross two major roads and a nice bloke drinking at the pub about a kilometre away had caught her and phoned us. 


The third day of storms, D, our lovely 95-year-old neighbour had intercepted both dogs heading for parts unknown and corralled them in her yard.

Again, embarrassing, but at least there was no further canine injury.  You have to wonder why a dog would, when scared, leave its nice, safe yard and house, where it knows its people will be, and run off to... somewhere.

There's a bloke been to look at the gate and what might be done about it.

Fortunately the storms seem to have passed.

It probably won't rain again til May now.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Every house should have one!

In a spontaneous act of... spontenaity, the reinventors picked up a pizza and a bottle of plonk and went to see an outdoor movie.


It's so terribly English, with rather lovely quirks and some pretty amusing CGI.  Nicole Kidman is completely wooden as the baddie, but you can ignore her.

Best of all, it features marmalade, and in a big way.

Every house should have a marmalade day every year.  Perhaps even more than one.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Under the sun

Summer in Perth is nasty.  Marmalade Cottage bakes and the reinventors are pretty pleased if they manage to have 75 per cent of the garden survive the season.  They apply wetting agent and spread mulch liberally.  There is no reticulation so they spend lots of time holding a hose.

Last year, the Creative Reinventor's mum found a shade house at a garage sale and for the second year it's been installed over the main vegie garden.

This is what grows in the shade.

Butter beans



The silverbeet still goes to seed, but that means next year's crop is already planted.

Absolutely no idea what these might be.

As well as the aforementioned wetting agent and mulch, we mucked out the chook pen and dug that in, then scattered about a dozen or so packets of expired seeds.

Exciting, isn't it? 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Yesterday it was hot.  Nasty on the concrete, and baking even in the shade.  These guys turned up.  The practical reinventor, about to go out, found them on the path between Marmalade Cottage and Daphne's place.

They're domestic ducks and only just starting to lose their fuzz for proper feathers.

We've no idea - really no idea - whose they might be.  Given their age, we suspect they were Christmas presents, which might explain them wandering loose on the street, as they're approaching adulthood and are a bit less cute than they were.

 They still squeak.

We put some big tubs of water in the front garden, where there's shade and hidey holes under the hydrangeas, and expected them to disappear.

They quite happily tucked into some chook food and snoofled about in the mud when we watered.

There's an ad on Gumtree and postings on several local facebook pages, but not a peep.

The Creative Reinventor would dearly love to keep them, but accedes that with two dogs, a cat and seven chooks, Marmalade Cottage is at capacity.

If no-one claims them in the next day or so, they'll go up the hill to lovely friend J's house where there are three ducks already.

Friday, 2 January 2015

A very Marmalade Cottage Christmas

Random photos from Christmas 2014 at Marmalade Cottage.

The Creative Reinventor's youngest sporting a fleece hat (wholly inappropriate for Christmas in Perth, but cute nonetheless).

Christmas breakfast - buttermilk pancakes, smoked salmon, sour cream and excellent coffee.

Jodie the neurotic kelpie snoozing in the sewing room as the Practical Reinventor hurriedly finished sewing gifts.

Last minute decision to sew a new top with fabric that was off grain and rolled in a most difficult fashion.  

The only iPad case like it anywhere!  A present for the Creative Reinventor.