It's been raining. And it's been very windy. And cold. Freezing cold. This week things finally abated, somewhat. There was not a lot of building action for the previous two weeks though. Apparently the roofers were not game to get up on the roof and do their thing while they have potential problems with flying pieces of iron, slippery timbers and general driving rain to content with. Wimps. They've come sporadically this week, and got a bit of the roof on, but we're far from finished.


And the steel windows were finally installed. Note I'm not writing with an exclamation point to indicate any happiness or excitement here. On Tuesday the window installing team turned up in a little minivan from Melbourne to do their thing. I was very excited - it was like when the Germans roll in on Grand Designs and with their incredible efficiency have an entire house built in 1 week. Well, we were far from that. It was like the bumbling C team were assigned to us. They had forgotten some major pieces of steel, fixings for the windows, and the installation brackets. So, they drove back to Melbourne, having put in a few of the windows (sans glass, that is all propped up on site, getting in the way) and will be back in 3 weeks time. I'm predicting that a letter from a Lawyer will be required to really get things moving......


This is the window in my kitchen though, and that's 3 year old S in front of it. He's pretty short, the bottom of the window is in line with the base units of the kitchen, and we have 4 meter high ceilings in here. I'm loving the view from where the sink will go (in the middle of it), especially as for the past 5 months my view has been a bricked in former window in the old kitchen.


Aside from the lack of action on the building site this week, I've had one win. I've finished the Kitchen plans! Hooray! I know that you (and I) had thought this day would never come, but after 6 months, they are done and off to the cabinet maker to price up. I'll post them during the week on the blog. Now I just have the laundry joinery (should be easy by comparison), the electrical plan (easy) and some details like the fireplace and stair detailing to sort out, some of which I've done this weekend.

I didn't do a lot this weekend that didn't revolve around kids and drafting, but the previous weekend I was out with old School friends. Last Saturday night, I went to Press to have dinner with school friend and former bridesmaid of mine J. We don't get to see each other a lot - J moved to Sydney around the same time that I moved to Melbourne, and she hasn't moved back home (yet. I'm still working on her), so she's been there for 13 years I think.


As it was freezing, I wore black wool. Wore this new this season jacket that I've been wearing a lot. The black matched my mood and the generally gloomy weather we've had. It has a bustle thing on the back and a big collar and makes a basic black outfit look more interesting. Wore my big dangly gold earrings to liven things up a bit. We ended up eating upstairs as they had a cancellation. It was full of large group booked tables, and the one next to us had ordered half a suckling pig, which the waiter then spent around 20 minutes carving up on a table next to us after it was ceremoniously paraded through the restaurant. It was quite the operation. They really like offal and other trendy things at Press.

The night before I went to dinner at Melt with old school friend L, whom I have known since we were 9. Turns out L is a closet blog reader, she found my blog after her husband was reading it and worked out it was me (we've never met - Hi G!). I have a few male readers. They clearly have to suffer through a lot of outfit posts for the stuff they come here for - renovation talk.

And it's been busy this week - as we've had a momentous occasion. E, my 5 year old started school. In Adelaide they take you into reception after you've turned 5. I can't believe my little cherub is off to school - it's gone in a flash. I swear she was a baby only 5 minutes ago.

 Read this book, I think it deserves a whole post on its own, as needless to say I found Mrs Delaney absolutely fascinating. I'd definitely put her on my list of Dinner Party guests (except that she died around 220 years ago).



 Took delivery of my Shoes of Shame.  Those of you who didn't end up reading the comment stream on that post would have missed that Mr AV told me to buy them, and I always do what I'm told (that'll be news to him).



 They match the bud of the first magnolia that will open tomorrow I hope on the tree in the front garden. I'm very excited, I love my magnolia tree.


Hope you had a good week xx
I'm knee deep in finishing the joinery plans for the kitchen (I promise! That's why I've been so quiet), which are aaaaalmost done.

I thought I'd share a bit of the kitchen inspiration that has helped me with the detailing.... all slightly random, but the thread in common is that I've embraced the more traditional style that I was leaning toward. But it's a little pared back, which will match the detailing in the extension well - which is complementary to the classic style of the front of the house, but stripped back a little.

Firstly, here are some images from kitchens in the UK via Tim Moss, who does a great job of pared back classic styling. The first one has stainless steel panels inset in the doors.





He uses a lot a lot of curved elements in his kitchens, which is a nice (albeit very expensive) detail. I won't be doing that in my design, but it's interesting to see a consistent theme throughout the design of his kitchens.






Very simple kickers, door and drawer profiles


 And here is another kitchen that is similar in styling with simple shaker door profiles that I recently pinned on Pinterest


And finally, a picture of the detailing from my Dad's kitchen, which I designed around 11 years ago now. I'm not going to go quite so decorative with the routing on the door panels (it suits his house, but mine is going to be a bit simpler). These are the base units - the knobs are china Edwardian style ones from Mother of Pearl & Sons. I'm going to copy kicker detail for my cabinets.



And here are the overhead cupboards which have a decorative bracket



And with that, I'm going to get on with finishing the plans. At long last...
I think you're either a shoe person, or a bag person. I'm a shoe person.

For the past 7 years, I've predominantly carried a Nappy (Diaper) bag around with me. It's nice enough looking, it's leather, it's extremely roomy and has a million pockets to haul all the essentials around with me. But I've now reached a point where I generally don't need to carry it around with me. My youngest has been out of nappies for around 9 months, so I don't need to carry 5 changes of clothes/ wipes/ snacks/ toys etc with me at all times. This has meant that I'm once more using handbags for general day to day activities, rather than strictly child free times (which have been rare up until recently) or out in the evening.


So, I have 5 everyday handbags, which seem like more than enough to me. I haven't bought a new one for over 2 years. Four of them are Kate Spade, which are different colours (dark brown/ pale beige/ yellow/ persimmon) and were purchased when on huge sale (one was only $90). They're made of quality leather, are well designed and are good every day handbags. I have one 'proper' designer handbag, bought for me by Mr AV nearly 4 years ago for my birthday, and I love it and use it all the time in Winter (it's black). But I really don't feel the need or the pull for any more bags. I don't feel the need for two black handbags, for instance.

Shoes, however, are another matter.

While idly browsing the internet, setting up a Shop it To Me account (brings all your favourite brands on sale to your inbox. This may or may not be a good idea), I spied a pair of hot pink suede Christian Dior strappy high heels half price on Bluefly. Now, I'm not actually in the market for new shoes, but I have gone back and looked at these shoes again and again over the past 2 days. It has taken every fibre of my willpower not to buy them. Reasons not to buy them include:

1. We are renovating our house, and I should spend money on that, rather than shoes.

2. I have enough high heeled shoes, as I generally wear flats every day, and these are going out shoes anyway.

3. I have enough shoes in general.

4. They're still going to cost me $600 with postage and a bad exchange rate, which is not a small sum of money.

5. I have one pair of 'special' shoes (the peacock feather ones), and probably don't need another pair.

But I still want them.



They are not even remotely practical, I suspect they're stagger from the car to the bar type shoes. They're suede, which means if it's raining I wouldn't wear them. They're strappy, which means they're for Summer only. See, the list of why not to buy them is much longer than why I should buy them.

I realise some of you reading will think they're horrible/ not for you... but I think they'd look perfect with a plain black dress, or say my navy and white ikat print dress, or my navy and white chevron print dress, or my pink floral Oscar skirt, or my floral oscar dress.... see - lots of potential wear.



So I'm being very strict with myself not to give in to the devil on my shoulder, and I won't get them, as sad as that may be. But I think from this sort of internal dialogue that I've definitely proven that I'm a Shoe person.

So what are you?

Edited to add: While browsing on Pinterest today, I came across this


The Universe is speaking to me!
School Holidays continue. Scenes of mess, mayhem and chaos continue in our too small house. Meanwhile, in the back garden, we've had the frame finished. Now we're just waiting for the roofers to turn up and put the roof on, which will mean an end to wet weather delays. Some of their supplies were delivered on Friday, so I'm ever hopeful that on Monday they will begin the sheeting of the roof in the corrugated iron. The framers finished their job on Wednesday by putting the little roof frame up on the top of the ceiling lantern. 



Hopefully that is the last picture of a frame any of us will have to endure. 

Meanwhile, on other house renovation matters, I have been jumping around in my mind like a crazy person from item to item finishing off the decorative scheme (all still in my head). I may not have quite finished off my drafting of the kitchen...or laundry... but I've been thinking about furniture, lighting and paint finishes. 

I have had my heart set on a dining pendant by Kevin O'Reilly - the Altar light. It looks like a black iron tray with candles on it, and would be almost as long as our 10 seater dining table (longer than that pictured below). Now, I realised that it would not be a cheap light fitting... but I was still a little crushed upon discovering through the Australian rep that it was $21,000 RRP. I lamented the expense to Mr AV, secretly hoping that he'd say magnanimously that if it was so important to the overall decorative scheme, that it could be a splurge item. No such luck. Not only did he almost choke on the price, but when I showed him the light fitting he actually said "I don't even like it". How can that be??? So, back to the drawing board on that item. 


One thing Mr AV did like was this - the Dedon Swingseat. I have been toying with the idea of what to do with the outdoor dining area, which is huge and will also accommodate a seating area in addition to our existing outdoor dining table and chairs. Cleverly, I showed Mr AV this picture, in which he immediately inserted himself in place of the bearded man in the panama hat. Thoughts of swinging gently in the breeze with a G&T at hand, dozing off while the children frolicked (quietly) in the garden appealed. Apparently, while we do not have funds for the light fitting, we have no problem in stumping up some funds for this... 


So, to some indoor pursuits. I've been cooking up a storm this week. Unfortunately my efforts have not been terribly appreciated by the children (unless my cooking includes Chocolate Cake or Crumble Top Puddings). One will always declare dinner is "extremely delicious", while the other two will declare that they are suddenly not hungry. I whipped up some little steamed chicken, mushroom and lemongrass Dim Sim. Here is a double tray full off to be steamed in my Thermomix. They were voted extremely delicious by almost all the children.



Did another one of the Leek, Thyme and Potato tarts. Children were not as keen as Mr AV and I on it.


We have a budding Picasso in our house. Unfortunately 3 year old S used the walls, rather than a canvas. Equally unfortunately he chose crayons, and just did some random scribbles, rather than an actual drawing, which would have actually made me feel better about the whole thing. 2 Magic Erasers and half an hour later, and the walls are back to normal.....here's a small sample


 I did a bit of gardening, and finally managed to weed the Veggie Garden. This was a difficult task, as a  month or so ago Mr AV got fed up with me saying I was going to weed it, and instead decided it would be best to just mow over the weeds. This meant that it has been difficult to find the carrots, which are strangely stumpy looking little things (but taste good), probably due to having had their tops cut off. I had two gardeners to assist me with this project, while small and untrained, they are quite good at pulling up weeds (and anything else in their vicinity), and especially enjoyed finding carrots as a sort of treasure hunt, which they would then wash under the tap and eat. I've put a thick layer of Cane Straw mulch down, so hopefully the weeds won't come back for a while.


 and this was what I looked like at the end - covered in dirt. We've had a lot of rain which meant that the weeds came up easily, but so did the clods of mud.


 Finally, I've managed to plough through a few books this week. I've finished off Nicky Haslam's memoir "Redeeming Features". He's an Interior Decorator in London who pretty much knows/ knew everyone of significance from the 20th Century. He's also a shameless name dropper and has a mind like a steel trap for gossip and anecdotes from years past. I've also read "Living in History", which is a lovely book about beautiful historic houses in Tasmania, and Holly Kerr Forsythe's book "Remembered Gardens", which is essentially a book about women gardeners in Australia, following 8 of them from the time of the Second Fleet's arrival through to more recent times and the legacy that they left (through importation of seeds and plants, garden design to collecting specimens for Joseph Paxton back in England). I've really enjoyed it. The last book I read was a little work of fiction, Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield, with its pretty Cath Kidson designed cover. It was written in the 1930's as a satirical diary on a middle class lady and her various domestic disasters. I found it quite amusing, and it's funny to think that not a lot changes, despite the years.


Hope you had a good week xx
My Mother had a few collections, one of which was Belleek China, specifically the shell pieces. Belleek was (and still is) made in Ireland from the mid 19th Century and they produced a very fine, nearly translucent bone china, some of which was moulded into extremely beautiful and fine pieces of china that incorporated coral and shells. 



Belleek used beautiful lustre glazes in their pieces - usually on the inside of the shells, or to highlight a contrast form, such as a branch of coral used as a handle.


As with any china, there are degrees of desirability relating to age - Belleek has a mark underneath, Green or blue is a recently made piece, whereas a Black mark is older and therefore more valuable.




To find a complete teaset these days would be quite extrodinary - the nature of the china, it's fineness and delicacy means that you can generally only find parts of tea sets, but even so, the beauty of the individual pieces make them highly collectible.







Shells have always inspired design. There was a particular mania for them during the Regency period, and you can see that in their use of shell motifs commonly found on furniture. Beautiful shell grottos or follies were often constructed in the grounds of stately homes at this time, as well as those examples of shell grottos such as the mysterious one found in Margate in Kent in 1836, pictured below




 I've always loved shells, and used to spend many hours at our beach house in my childhood collecting and categorising shells with my mother in the long Summer holidays, and these memories are quite happily intertwined with her china collection as almost one and the same. In a similar way to our beachcombing, I can remember trawling antique shops with her and she'd always have her eye out for a new piece of Belleek, if found it would be pounced upon - the disappointment she would have if it was "just a green mark" stamped on the bottom, but unable to resist buying it anyway. 

Shells were not always just decoration for a beach side home as we think of them today, but were part of the collecting of natural curiosities: of taxidermy butterflies and beetles, of botanical illustrations, feathers and minerals, of fossilised ammonites - these things were all the rage during the 18th and 19th Centuries as the knowledge of the formation of our world and the creatures within it were being enlightened by Science. Certainly these little treasures in china have a lasting pull to them, outshining other, more valuable pieces of china and shimmering with their lustre and delicacy in the darkness of a cabinet.
I'm tired! It's been a very busy week. Mr AV has been away in France on a "work" trip. I'm suspicious that not a lot of work actually occurred, because he returned saying it was "brilliant" and it also happened to conveniently take in the Tour de France.... Meanwhile, back on the home front, we've just finished the first week of the school holidays. But I have managed to do a few grown up things. 

Last night on a wet and freezing cold night, we went to see Swan Lake performed by the Australian Ballet as part of their celebration of 50 years of the Australian Ballet (Swan Lake was the first ballet the company ever performed). This was me in navy and black Lela Rose. I wore my gold shoes with it. I'm not really liking my new hair cut. I still have no idea how to style it, and have alternatively been making myself look either matronly or about 12. Neither of which I aspire to...




It was at the Festival Centre in all its retro 70's glory. 


I Loved it: the beautiful music, the spectacular costumes, the sad tale, the people watching in the foyer. Definitely one to catch if you can see it on the national tour, although I think it's mostly sold out. Mr AV was not so enamoured with it... he started to suggest that I should take 5 year old E along to "these things" with me in the future as she'd love it.... shades of my Mother and Father. I started attending the opera aged 8 with my mother as my father loathes and detests the opera. Mr AV has had quite a bonding session with my Dad over their shared dislike of Opera. I think if given the chance he would have preferred to be on the sofa watching the ruby. During "half time" as he refers to intermission he was checking the rugby scores. I can see the future of concert going for me......

One thing that I found interesting was that it occurred to me there is no happy ending in the classic great romantic Opera/ Theatre/ Ballet experience. Usually a great romance involves a sad outcome. In this case Prince Sigfried throwing himself into the Lake while Odette stays a swan forever. But it happens in so many other forums - Romeo and Juliet, Mimi dying tragically of tuberculosis in La Boheme etc etc. It's such a contrast to the happily ever after we expect now, probably due to the influence of Hollywood. 

Another child free activity during the week was attending an Outdoors on Parade (local version of Williams Sonoma which has been around for 30 years in Adelaide) cooking class. It had the head chef from Jolley's Boathouse (where we went to dinner a couple of weeks ago) preparing 3 dishes, which we got to eat matched with full sized glasses of wine. I was sitting on a small table with 4 others, including the head Chef from Press restaurant (one of Adelaide's most popular restaurants at the moment). I had a great night talking food/ the restaurant scene in Adelaide and Melbourne/ food trends etc along with taking home the recipes from the delicious food that was made for us. 



This was the beetroot house cured salmon on horseradish cream with avocado, rocket. It was So Good. I can't wait to make this (once we entertain people again...)


This was the slow cooked shoulder of lamb tagine on pearl couscous with quinces. I'm making this for dinner tonight, although I'll live on the edge and use normal couscous.

So my time this week, aside from these little interludes has been about school holidays with the children. We've had a busy week of ticking off items like haircuts and dentist visits interspersed with bike rides and hands of Casino Pirate

the view from my handlebars. H is in the distance unseen.

What's Casino Pirate? I hear you say. Well, it's a card game where you bet pirate treasure on each hand of cards.... and is rather like a starter version of poker. Trust the French to come up with a kid's game that teaches kids the rules of poker! 7 year old H is obsessed with it, and we play most evenings after his bath when the younger ones are asleep.... with any luck we'll be able to train him to such a high standard he'll support us in our dotage with his winnings in Vegas. 



Not a lot of visible action on the renovation this week - we've had 2 rained out days, but most disappointingly the windows have been delayed by the manufacturing company for another 2 weeks. Frustrating! They are coming from Melbourne with the installing team, and there was some palaver about a big job in Sydney they were doing so couldn't get to us before then.... not happy. 


So photos of roof purlins and eaves are not that exciting (Mr AV could not actually tell what the difference was when he returned from France). But they took down the temporary fence around one side of the house to do the eaves one day, so I snapped this shot which shows you the join of the old and new. Conveniently the shadows are covering up My Great Shame - the Vegie patch, which is full of weeds. Hopefully during the school holidays I'll get a minute to go and weed it. 


Hope you had a great week too xx
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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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