I feel that Christmas has crept up on me this year. Next week my children are finishing School for the long Summer holidays, and I am not ready! So I have spent this week in a mad scramble trying to get Christmassy at home, while also running around to various school break ups, music concerts and Carol evenings.


The red wreath is up on the front door (cricket bat left out as mark of respect for Phil Hughes)





I've purchased a few more Christmas decorations for the dining table - the oversized mercury glass baubles are from One Rundle Trading and the ribbed ones from David Jones.


Christmas baking has commenced with these delicious white choc chip and cranberry biscuits. Here's the recipe if you're interested in making them, they're not overly sweet due to the tartness of the Cranberries, and the Brandy gives them a very Christmassy flavour.

Christmas Biscuits
125 gm butter
1/3 Cup soft brown sugar
1/2 Cup caster sugar
1 Tbsp Brandy
1 egg
1 1/2 Cup Self Raising flour
1 Cup white chocolate chips
1 Cup dried cranberries (Craisins)

Beat sugar and butter together until combined. Add remaining ingredients except for the choc chips and cranberries and mix together until well combined. Mix chocolate chips and Cranberries into the biscuit mixture and spoon single tablespoon full onto a baking sheet making sure you spread them well apart (they spread!). Bake in a preheated 160C/ 320F oven for 10-15 minutes.



I've started wrapping the presents that I have bought - I'm using brown Kraft paper and leftover offcuts of the Cole and Sons "Woods and Pears" wallpaper that was put up in the Children's playroom. Recycling at its finest.

The Christmas tree will be purchased this Saturday - we had a fleeting visit to Melbourne (17 hours) to attend a Dinner last Saturday night so the past weekend was written off for the fresh tree purchasing and decorating.


I broke out my party shoes for the occasion

You know those embarrassing moments as a female where you turn up to a party to find that you're dressed the same as another guest?


Mr AV and his boss in matching red pants and pale blue shirt combos.  What are the odds?


Around the house the pool works continue at a snail like pace. I'm hopeful that it will be filled with water next Tuesday signalling the end to the garden works and the farewelling of the landscapers and pool people. More plants were purchased last week for the garden and arrived last Thursday. This meant that I had to plant 86 plants on Friday when it was 34C. In the end we did a family evening planting session for 4 hours, and got them all in. I can't pretend the children were a lot of help. They were enthusiastic, but I had to go back after we'd convinced them to go to bed and replant the ones they'd helped with as they'd buried the plants in the mulch rather than the actual soil. The plants are all the fluffy filler things - the first round of planting were the trees and shrubs which are establishing nicely now.



Plants included white agapanthus, a tree peony, verbenas, salvias, perennial grasses, star jasmine and oregano (as ground covers), Euphorbia, lavender. I'm striking some sedums from my front garden at the moment, and am also trying to grow some Echium from seed (not overly successful - I have one plant). These will also get added into the back garden once they're strong enough. The end effect will be a lush and full with underlying order from the hedging and topiary balls.


Sadly I've found that 3 of my Japanese box hedge plants have inexplicably died this week in the side garden. They were looking really healthy and bushy, and suddenly turned their toes up. I'm now suspicious that a possum is responsible. Their urine has killed plants in my garden before. As these are not in a row, it's all a little random and odd.

sorting books for the new bookshelves


Inside the house I've received my 4 armchairs for the library/ sitting room. Just imagine there's a round coffee table in the middle there…. The room is really coming together now - a long way to go, but I've definitely broken the back of the organising and sorting that I had to do in here. To clear out this room I've sorted through a 2 drawer black hole- like filing cabinet (I contracted a shredding company who delivered a bin that I filled to be taken away for secure document destruction), sold the filing cabinet once empty, sold the children's train table, sold an armchair, sorted through cases of books, sorted through my work catalogues and samples and rehoused them in the lower cabinets of the new bookcases, painted the bookcases, shelved the books and had a new light fitting hung. It has literally taken me hours and hours. So many random things had found places in here, and there've been a lot of trips to the Charity shop with the car boot full of things, as well as trips out to the bins in the back garden.


I think this is going to become my favourite room in the house. I've ordered two new lamps for the room, and the picture lights that will go in the centre top of each bookshelf, and still have to sort out some cushions. There are more arm chairs needed for the room perimeter, but it's looking pretty good now, so I will likely turn my attention to other parts of the house that need a decorating blitz for the time being (like our main living room, which is half completed).

This year I'm hopeful that the lead up to Christmas will be relatively relaxed. The past 5 years of Christmases have been fairly fraught and busy, and I'm hopeful that I will get to enjoy it this year - and that I might do a bit of Christmas Baking with the children and enjoy spending time with family and friends who are to return home to Adelaide from far flung locations.

Hope your Christmas preparations are in order!

47 comments:

  1. The library looks fantastic Heidi. I can't wait to see your choice of lamps. I felt tired just reading through the list of chores you had to get through in order to get the room to where it is.
    I love what you have done with the wrapping - how creative.
    I feel like the festive period has been very busy indeed for me so far. We start early and, because my husband is American, we do a big thanksgiving last week. My aim is always to get Christmas cards ordered before that, so I feel like I start in mid-November. We are off to Colorado at the end of next week and the pace will massively slow down once we are there (thankfully). I'm hoping to give some proper thought to curtains for our family room over the holidays!
    x

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    1. Thanks Charlotte, I'm so pleased its finally coming together - it was such a junk room for so long that I kept the door closed on!!
      I hope you get a little rest over Christmas - you've had a very busy and stressful year too this year with your move and renovation, and starting with Thanksgiving… I've always wondered how the Americans do it as you have to back up for Christmas so soon after! Hope the lead up to Christmas isn't too frenetic for you

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  2. The library is really starting to take shape ... love the chairs and chandelier. Garden is looking great too. I have my tree up and the presents wrapped and underneath, expect for two online purchases that should arrive in the next day or so. We are hosting both sides of our families this year (over two days). I need to write up some food shopping lists and get on to some Christmas baking pronto. My baking assistant (aka 21 year old son) is away for three months doing vacation work for his Uni course and I will miss his help and the fun we have whilst cooking together. I bought a Thermomix two weeks ago, so have been sourcing recipes for Christmas treats. I am also going to try to replicate Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark!! May I ask where you bought the cushions that are on the library chairs? Take care Heidi. Jo xx P.S. thoroughly agree with your bah humbug DJs post!!

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    1. Oh you are super organised Jo! I still have things to buy, and am a bit stuck. I'm feeling a little pressured to get it all done in the next few days too with school breaking up. I suspect I'll be spending a lot of time next to/ in the pool on drowning watch once it's full of water and won't get a lot else done!
      Enjoy the thermie - I love mine, and I make the biscuit recipe above in it - just leave out the choc chips and cranberries till the last and then reverse mix them in. So many good recipes - check out Quirky cookings recipes the cashew chicken satay is delicious!
      The cushions are in a Schumacher fabric called Betwixt by Celerie Kemble, and I bought them from an Etsy seller called Pillow Mood https://www.etsy.com/shop/PillowMood It was a custom order, but if she doesn't have any in stock you can try putting it into Etsy in general to see if someone else has it.

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  3. As I sit here in my crappy Officeworks chair, leaning on a melamine desk and looked at pictures of your perfect sitting room, I did that whingy cry thing at the computer screen. Then I read how much work you did to get there and I knew that I would never have that sort of commitment - it's why I can't have nice things.

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    1. You've made me laugh so much Cybill!! There has truly been a lot of work that has gone into this room - I said to my husband the other day that I am so sick of sorting through and dealing with crap!! Mountains of paper - I swear it was breeding in corners somewhere…
      Still more to do though - there's a bit left in the corners out of shot, so take heart, it's far from perfect!

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  4. Your front entry is so pretty! I love the oversized mercury baubles that are on your table. So clever with with the wrapping paper. I made an envelope out of sanderson wallpaper. Still my fav custom envelope to date. That chandelier is so perfect! Can't wait to see the lamps. You've been working EXCEPTIONALLY hard! Well done you.

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    1. That envelope would have been gorgeous Laura! The lamps will be a while away sadly - they're coming by sea freight, so will arrive late Feb I'd guess. Like everything in this house things take a lot of time… it will come together, but a big leap forward with the shelves, light fitting and chairs in particular. It's actually a nice room to be in now (rather than a room with piles of stuff to sort through).

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    2. http://lasscreative.com.au/blog/2013/07/07/love-to-craft/
      That is the envelope.

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  5. 1. great shoes

    2. funny re outfits!

    3. 4 hours in 34 degress- Jesus wept

    4. what kind of salvias?

    5. luff the baubles

    6. sad re dead box

    7. luff it that you luff John Staphanidis too! I treasure my books

    8. Love the biscuits

    9. LUFF the library

    10. miss you xxxxxx

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    1. SO funny re the outfits! I couldn't stop laughing all night at how ridiculous they looked given they were both wearing such a fashion statement type outfit!!
      Nearly died doing the planting. A shower has never felt so good. But I had to get the plants in as if they'd been left out they would have died while we were in Melbourne as it was boiling in Adelaide. The salvias were unnamed but look like Black Knight to me, plus two pink ones that are unknown (my designer had struck them from cuttings herself and said it's just one that gets passed around in Adelaide). Miss you too!!

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  6. The library/sitting room looks fabulous. The chairs are perfect especially with that beautiful jewel the chandelier. I've got so much sorting, chucking and donating to do when my son moves out . I'm really looking forward to it as I'm hoping to be beautiful organized and to be able to easily find the things I need and my treasures. My son wants to keep everything (not sure if it's laziness or the beginnings of a hoarder) at least it will all be going to his house. Hooray

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    1. I think there is definitely a hoarder instinct in children, and even if your Son is getting older he's probably not feeling like confronting the big sort out/ throw out… my Older sister still has stuff stored at Dad's and claims she'll one day be collecting it. As it's been around 20 years since she moved out of home I don't think it's ever going to happen (and Dad is threatening to throw out all the "precious" items that must be kept if she doesn't collect them soon! Enjoy the big purge and organising, it is nice to know exactly where things are, and not be rifling through general stuff to try to find them!

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  7. so much to comment on! Love everything!! that library is just meant to read and write. Isn't it fun sorting through the bits? I can barely swim in 34 degree weather let alone do anything useful. I used my old wallpaper to wrap some pressies too and it looked great and otherwise it would have gone to waste. Your house is still very xmasy considering it crept up on you. still stuck on the lamp issue but i waiver between can't decide and don't care anymore! Those shoes were made for dancing H x

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    1. I HATE sorting through stuff - I've had to do so much of that in the past 7 years - I think with Kids its even worse as they're always outgrowing stuff, so it adds to general household stuff too. But I had all sorts of things I'd collected as mementos that I just chucked in the end. Why I'd kept ski passes from my 1991 ski trip I have no idea….! The shoes are definitely not made for dancing! They're far too high. They're made for decorative sitting on a chair really!

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  8. Heidi what an inspiring post and funny too: the outfits and the children being helpful gardeners! Boxwood death is disappointing though, we've lost a few with our outdoor renovations, sad as they take so long to grow here and they were planted back in 2009, oh well begin again.
    Our furniture arrived yesterday and today I will be filling the bookcase in MrBP's study and in fact I am in our sitting room in front of the new round glass coffee table as I type... have you found yours yet or still looking?
    I've been swamped with the latest move, the unpacking has been horrendous and the sorting...and the day we moved our daughter came down with a nasty stomach bug, it was so bad we thought she had appendicitis so we spent some time at the clinic with her. All is well now and she is back to her Rascal self. She was very happy to be back in her own room with the new furniture and finishes for her illness!
    Take care and I hope your Christmas lead up is calm with lots of good visits and baking with the children.xox

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    1. Oh that is sad about your box Dani - Builders are the worst gardeners I'm afraid! Our magnolia tree in the front garden really suffered from our front of house works around 4 years ago, and it hasn't really recovered. I'm considering pulling it out as it's a shadow of its former self and has lost all the form with die back.
      I'm so excited to see your home all coming together. I'm still looking for a coffee table - I've found two options, one hideously expensive and one incredibly cheap. I'm worried the cheap one will look awfully cheap (it's from West Elm) and I don't like buying things only to throw them out a year later, so I'm not sure as yet. I may yet get it as I keep thinking about the other pieces of furniture still to buy in this room.
      Goodness, sounds like a difficult homecoming for you, and glad the stomach bug is gone - must've been bad if you suspected appendicitis.

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  9. Heidi, that chandelier is divine! And so perfect for the library! Love the mood of this room - so welcoming, and dare I say elegant? (usually avoid that word, it's so hackneyed and kind of conjures up visions of Hyacinth! - but truly it is elegant - in the loveliest sense! and such lightness of touch!
    Garden is looking wonderful already. Just imagine how it will be a few years down the track! Loved the shoes too! So you! Funny about the red pants/blue shirts - quite an adventurous combo for Oz. The fact they both wore them says something about the culture of their workplace I think. Have seen quite a few Europeans in this look but the only Australian I ever remember at cocktails/dinner was the captain of an RAN destroyer visiting Colombo. He was something of a sensation - and quite gorgeous!
    Did you make that beautiful Christmas wreath on front door? It's stunning! Also such a wonderful touch re cricket bat.
    Now give yourself a break. Take down a good book from those shelves and put your feet up, for an afternoon at least - before the school holidays start. You deserve it! Pammie xxx

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    1. Pammie, I was reading a new Oscar de la Renta book in there last night, and just enjoying the peace! You're very kind to say it is elegant - it's certainly got a lovely calm feeling with the neutral colours and the books which dampen noise.
      I can't wait for the garden to mature - I've just done another couple of hours in there pruning, and it's all looking so good even with miniature plants!
      Yes, funny about the pants - they all bought them on a work trip last year to the South of France, Mr AV was first, endured the ridicule of the other 6 males in the group (clients and others) who gradually went out purchasing their own red pants until by the end of the trip they all had a pair!! Didn't make the wreath - it's faux hydrangea but the door gets too much sun in the morning so it has to be fake. Hope all is well with you P!

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  10. I had to laugh when you said sorting out the library took you hours and hours of work - if it were my project I would have had to measure the time in centuries! I am so in awe of your energy and perseverance, and of course of your multiple talents.

    Well, it got very cold and windy here, no real snow yet, the Rockefeller Center tree was lit last night (the big one on Fifth Avenue), and I hung up this year's wreath - since we live in an apartment most of the time, I hang it on the hall mirror. Other "outdoor" decorations are limited to lighting the fences around the terraces.

    I am seriously in love with the chandelier.

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    1. I can say that I was dreading going into the room a lot of the time, it was slightly overwhelming Fred! But I'd just think I'd do 5 minutes, and then 2 hours later would finish up whatever I'd started. The most frustrating thing about it is that it looked worse and worse as the tidying progressed. It really only came together at the very end (and there are still a couple of things to deal with hidden in the corners!!)
      I spent a lot of time at Rockefeller Centre when we were in NY for a month, it was close to the apartment we stayed in and I had a 20 month old to get out of said apartment every day, loved all the Art Deco elements on the buildings. Sounds very Christmassy with the cold and the tree at your place.

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  11. Between your possums and FF's bush turkeys, I think you 2 should time share a terrier albeit on an irregular schedule...the possibility they may be stopping should discourage trespassers.

    I would have had fun all night with the hubs and boss matchy-matchy.

    The word we use for 4 hours in 34 C in my hemisphere is 'cremation'

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    1. We have a terrier, and he'd kill that possum in a flash but he's still housed at my Dad's and doesn't seem inclined to return home… laughing at the Creamation for 34 C - there are months in Summer when I just can't garden. Fortunately this weekend is cool, so I'm doing a lot of general maintenance this weekend.

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  12. My dear Heidi,

    You have been a whirlwind of Christmas spirit in your pursuits to ready yourself and your family for the big day. I am heartily impressed! The decorating around here does not begin until right before Christmas when our tree goes up. I do like to get my wreath on the front door before the tree and that is usually made or purchased the second week of December.

    I love the door details (transom and sidelights) of your beautiful entry. Is that old or did you install it during your recent renovations? Either way, it is delish!

    The library has come a long way, well done. I think you'll be ready to hang the Christmas stockings on the fireplace by Christmas eve at this rate.

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    1. Hello CD, You're very traditional European with the night before tree ritual.. I don't think my children would have the patience for it! As I type my Husband is out with my oldest selecting the live tree, and there is great anticipation from the other two about decorating it.
      The front door is original to the house - the front of the house is circa 1900, and the details are very Victorian (I don't think the builder was particularly fashionable!). There are some beautiful features in the front of the house, the back extension is much more modern - I tried to make it complimentary without being faux Victorian. The glass sidelights and transom are likely not the original. I suspect it would have had stained glass originally and at some point a long time ago someone decided to remove it and replace it, which I don't mind as it's very pretty and I've used the iron detail throughout the house as a result (such as the hall lights which are Iron lanterns).

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  13. Had not heard about Phillip Hughes on this side of the world - what a tragedy. Is the cricket bat tradition for when a beloved player dies, or is that your family's way of honoring the player?

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    1. I think it made news around the world in the Countries that play Cricket - it was certainly news in the UK and India, but probably not in the US. Such a terrible tragedy and such a freak accident. The bat thing was started on social media (deaths in cricket are almost unheard of so there isn't a precedent), and Mr AV embraced it enthusiastically as he loves Sport and played as a child and was very upset by it.

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  14. So much to love here Heidi. The shoes, the matching outfits, the sitting room, the wrapping paper. You are a style Queen- think FF should replace Martha Stewart's appointment as domestic and gardening leader with you :)

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    1. Ha - you are funny! I was actually looking at a Martha Stewart Christmas book (out of my boxes) and her two story gingerbread house and wondering if I should have a go. Based on my previous gingerbread shacks, I think it may be overambitious!

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  15. Love your front door wreath. Actually, as usual love it all. Happy organizing and preparations before school break up. Den x

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    1. Happy organising and preparations to you too Den!

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  16. I'm curious as to how you are planning on using your library room Heidi? With just 4 armchairs, that would suggest it is a room for you, or you and Mr AV with perhaps just a couple of guests? I assume it is a quiet space for reading and imbibing whatever is on your drinks tray? (Or maybe a room for hiding from children, hehe!)

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    1. I'm planning on having a couple more chairs that will be movable (against the room perimeter and can create small groups or merge into the larger), but it's not a big room really, so it's never going to accommodate more than 8 people. Probably pre dinner drinks or something in Winter (once I get the fireplace cleaned and sorted), or a cosy room for reading - the main living room is very open to the rest of the house and not entirely peaceful! The piano is in there too, so the kids use the room most days.

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  17. Your home is looking nice and festive :) Christmas seems to creep up on me every year! I still havent bought any gifts yet running a bit behind this year!!

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    1. I used to be so organised, one year I'd finished the shopping in October and had it all shipped home to Adelaide. This year, not so much! Hopefully I'll knock it over in the next week… hope your preparations go well too Michelle.

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  18. I am literally in raptures over those divine shoes!!!!!

    The library/sitting room is looking fabulous.

    And... the matching outfits is absolutely priceless! xx

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    1. I love those shoes so much - can't go past a peacock feather and crystals for festive party shoes. They do hurt a little though…. but totally worth it!
      So pleased the sitting room is coming together.

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  19. You are a glamourous powerhouse!
    And those shoes are the bomb dot com.
    Please take some downtime- as i said to the fella: flex your "no" muscle.
    All the best and do drop me a line if you get to melb xx

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    1. Not sure if I'll be in Melb before Christmas now - our last two visits have been so short there's not been a lot of down time, and I've missed it!
      Trying to say no… hopefully from now on things will get a little quieter

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  20. Hi Heidi,
    All looking wonderful at your house-except dead box-they can do that unannounced and spoil your day>>
    Love love love your shoes.
    Your library is also coming up a treat, looking forward to the final reveal when you get your coffee table.
    Havent even started getting ready for Christmas here at Wood farm- today is the day to get into action-have 25 of Mr W family for Xmas tomorrow( the mostly bring a plate, so not too much of a hassle. They are all very relaxed about it)
    Rebecca my daughter has an interview at Roseworthy on the 15th Dec so its back over to Adelaide-just love your city. So there is a lot to do in between- enjoy your lead up to Xmas. xxMarilyn

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    1. Haven't picked a coffee table yet Marilyn, so the big reveal will be a while off!
      Goodness sounds busy at your place - have a lovely time with the family. Very sensible to have everyone bring a plate, it's too overwhelming for the host otherwise. Enjoy the day with your family.
      THat's lovely re your daughter, what's she studying?

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    2. She is hoping to get into Vet science. She has already done a bachelor in animal science at Latrobe in Vic and this year she did her honours in Animal science at Roseworthy, SA. Fingers and toes crossed she will get accepted-we have the interview on the Monday afternoon. She is absolutely determined to follow her dream to be a vet xx

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    3. Oh I'll keep all my fingers and toes crossed for her! My younger sister and my cousin are Vets - they had to go to Sydney Uni to study though as they didn't have a course in Adelaide back in the late 90's. So good that they've now got one here. Hope she gets in! x

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  21. HEIDI. I was not adequately prepared for the gorgeousness and haute taste I would find here. I feel like I'm wearing the wrong thing to be reading your blog. I love your house so much. It reminds me of my favorite colonial houses in Mérida, Mexico. That is sad about the Japanese boxwoods. See if you can track down Korean boxwoods. They tend to be exceptionally hardy. And have bigger leaves.
    The peacock shoes! Perfect! Lastly, your front door is so pretty. How old is it? It looks like it came from an old house in Charleston, South Carolina.

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    1. Stephen you're so funny, you're never underdressed around here - I mix the high/ low (and generally don't publish photos of the low, as it's dull and boring!).
      I've never been to Mexico, so shall go and google to see what the houses are like, but will have to look at the Korean box as an alternative maybe. I'd been hopeful the Japanese box would do better than the English, but it seems nothing can withstand the Agent Orange style attack from Possums
      The house is 113 years old at the front, and probably does have some similarities with the South as we all have verandas for the heat in Australia.

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  22. Heidi, I love your Xmas decorations, just up my alley. Mine are looking a bit incomplete this year, not sure where my Xmas mojo went this year. I think I over committed myself this year & suddenly it was December & my boys still believe in the magic & I found myself having to quickly get out the tree (4 hour job, lol) & the rest of the trimmings are slowly appearing, agh!! Hopefully it will all look pretty by Xmas day!

    Those shoes, D-I-V-I-N-E! Matching outfits, priceless!! And loving the Library layout, it is really helping me with ideas for our library/music room.

    Exx

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  23. Loving your charcoal colored door - or is it navy blue? Your decorations are so chic. Those shoes - Oh I would die for those shoes - they are stunnahs. I have a purple velvet bag with peacock feathers on it and I love it

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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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