It's a New Year. I don't make resolutions - if you ever want to fail at something, make it a New Year's resolution, and you'll surely succeed at that! We've been entertaining non-stop for the past fortnight (hence my silence on the blog front, I've been a little exhausted by the amount of cooking and cleaning I've been doing). Now that things are slowing down with friends either down the coast on beach holidays, or returning home interstate, I think it's safe to say that we'll be having a lazy few weeks ahead. I had planned on doing a big wrap up on the whole Christmas shebang on the blog, but I fear I've missed the window on that - I'm starting to dismantle the Christmas ornaments today, so it all seems a bit passé really.

One of the many Dinners we had over the past few weeks was with an old School friend (and his family) of Mr AV's, who is Malaysian (he came to Adelaide to boarding school). It ended up a very, very late night….


I've been reading my new "Valentino: At the Emperor's Table" book, and have to say I have felt as if my table settings are severely underdone. Unfortunately I don't own a collection of giant Meissen Swan figurines or individual Russian silver throne salt cellars, or a Butler, so instead I pulled out our Sterling Silver cutlery, used the good linen, and tried to dress up an otherwise casual family dinner at home (the children were up the other end of the table with the plainer glassware. I won't risk the blue water glasses on them). The little silver pepper pots and salt cellars were given to me by my In Laws for my recent Birthday - they're family pieces, and are around 120 years old. There's a pair of them, and I love them so.


I decided to do a fairly typical Australian menu (they live in Singapore), so it was lamb rack with a dijon mustard herbed crust, roast potatoes, and a salad. All very easy and tasty.


The napkins that I used are also old family linen - they're absolutely enormous as you can see by the comparison between the other new "best" linen ones that I bought more recently and that match the new tablecloth (Apologies for the wrinkles, I just pulled them out of the laundry basket to take a photo so they're unironed). Old linen napkins were very large as they had to cover the voluminous skirts of women's dresses 100 years plus ago - they're around 70cm/27", compared to the 42cm/ 16" modern ones.  The napkins were also handed down to me with two long and very wide table runners. I used them on the sideboard when we had our last big Dinner Party. The fabric design woven throughout the damask is a heraldic crest. They've got a few holes in them, so I strategically covered them with plates… but I need to get them darned. Another thing on the list for this year…

From the dinner party in August in which the food was served Buffet style


I'm sure you're all dying to know what was under the Christmas tree for me….


A new Dyson handheld vacuum cleaner! I was thrilled (really). Now I won't have to drag out the vacuum every day to do a quick clean up under the dining table or of the kitchen floor. This thing is incredibly powerful - I vacuumed Mr AV's study downstairs with it, and it was picking up so much carpet fluff. I had always intended to buy one, and had made a space in the pantry design for it, along with an adjacent powerpoint. Mr AV installed it today, along with a Magic Holder (from Howard's Storage World) for the dusters and other broom thing. Even thought the laundry (where the cleaning equipment is mostly located) is not far away, it's a lot easier to have everything to hand in the kitchen, where most of the mess is centred.

inside the pantry on the "short" non food side of it.

Having just unpacked all the books onto the bookshelves in the sitting room/ library, I found this book "Home Comforts" in amongst what I term my self-help books (they're all the child rearing/ etiquette/ stain removal tomes I have, rather than any psychological style self help books). It's probably the most comprehensive book on cleaning ever written, and if there's anything you ever wondered about whether you're doing things the "right" way, or how to take care of certain types of fabric, how to take care of a pet or pretty much anything else related to household management, then this is the book for it. It's over 800 pages long though, so it does take a while to read through….The author is a Professor and Lawyer, so she is incredibly thorough. Kind of like Faux Fuchsia on speed. I find it a bit of a motivational book given that I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of cleaning I do, especially during school holidays.


While I don't make resolutions, I do view the New Year as a time for working out projects for our house for the next year (stay tuned for the excitement of when I start the design of the new garage), and casting my eye to the things that need a little maintenance in the shorter term. I'm planning to have the carpets cleaned, and the oven professionally cleaned too…. but in the meantime I'll be working my way through the pile of books I've been given for my Birthday and Christmas, as well as having a few swims in the pool which has thankfully now been completed and is fully operational, and of which I'll post pictures once there are no children and their horrific fluorescent coloured pool toys in it (currently rare). Hooray for the pool! Hope you're enjoying a lazy New Year's Day and that 2015 brings you health and happiness.

best Guacamole known to Man.

36 comments:

  1. Happy 2015 to you, Heidi! Sounds as if you've had a hectic festive season! Ours has been crazy too, and I must say I feel no energy left at all to blog.... Perhaps soon though.
    Love your table setting. I prefer a simple and elegant table setting myself, like yours rather than an ostentatious one!
    Love your salt and pepper set. I had a chortle at your Dyson excitement!

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    1. I have felt very lazy, and very disinclined to blog in the somewhat limited down time I've had Ruth! Sounds like you're the same. Ostentatious would be fun every now and again (as would having a Butler), but simple is the only way I can go! My husband was berated by a local shop owner for buying me a vacuum. She told him he was headed to the Divorce court over it!! But I'm so happy with it!

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    2. Have been thinking of you and the Adelaide weather forecast. So glad the pool was ready for use. What a life saver in this weather!

      Feeling exhausted too after all the Christmas festivities. Seemed to be forever cooking and cleaning up as well. A delight to have the family staying for a week but it does involve a lot of work. Plus drinks and suppers for cousins and others. All gone back home now - so we're starting to recover.

      Could have done with a butler and maid! On that subject, planning to treat myself in a month or so to the Valentino book. It looks divine on Amazon - just wish the price would come down more. Strangely enough we did have the equivalent of a butler for two years, along with a nanny/maid, a brilliant fulltime cook, a part time gardener and a night watchman. When we lived in Colombo and had to do a lot of entertaining. It was wonderful - our staff were brilliant. The butler could do beautiful flower arrangements and fold napkins in about 100 different ways (so interesting your info about the size of napkins), as well as all the other butlery types of things. You'd have loved him, he was such a nice man, hardworking, intelligent, polite and with a delightful sense of humour and giggle. They spoiled me forever. When we left and had to say goodbye we all cried buckets, them and us, even Sir. But when you have a household of servants they are kind of like extended family and you're responsible for them - and their problems, eg at the start we had a cook whose wife thought he was having an affair with our nanny - she created terrible problems for him and threatened the nanny. The nanny (a really sweet young girl - the cook was in his 60s) had to be protected from her. Eventually he resigned and we found the fabulous man who stayed with us till we left. Once we'd got our ideal set-up, it worked so well.
      Your household compendium looks wonderful! Have a bookshelf in the laundry with a variety of similar but none that are as good as this sounds. Also the Dyson sounds fantastic too. But we already have two vacuum cleaners in working condition - one bought by Sir is a top of the range Miele, but so heavy I can't use it.
      Off to Sydney soon and looking forward to going out on A's boat on the Harbour. Also to catching up with our old friends and former Cambridge neighbours who are there for a few days! But envying FF her time on the Gold Coast despite the Foxtel and wifi issues. It looks fabulous!
      Look forward to the guacamole recipe and others - DIL copied out your chicken salad recipe and will be making soon. When I first read Flylady years ago, my sink was never so polished or shiny. Have slipped a bit since then. Happy New Year! Pammie xxx

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    3. Boat on the harbour sounds wonderful Pammie! As does the catch up with the old Cambridge neighbour. It sounds like you've certainly earned your rest as well, even if it is nice to catch up with everyone and have family time, it is kind of tiring!!
      Always so envious of your staff setup - although I fear if I had that once it would ruin me forever and I'd be like that woman I told you about who can't handle the drudgery of unpacking her own dishwasher now. Have you tried using Booko.com.au for your book purchases? The Valentino one was around $130 or so from memory, not exactly cheap, but cheaper than $250. I always use Booko to compare prices and sometimes find some huge price differences. I'm sure you'll get your sink shining again soon. Have to admit I do quite like a shiny sink, although it is hard to maintain during the school hols. Have a lovely time in Sydney xx

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  2. I think I need that book. Am not great at being tidy or keeping house, my talents lying elsewhere and all.
    Happy new year to you and yours xx

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    1. It's an extremely comprehensive book Cilla, but have you heard of the Fly Lady? It's slightly… quirky… but her cleaning routines are good, and certainly a good starting point for keeping a house basically tidy and clean with only a short amount of time per day http://www.flylady.net
      Happy New Year to you too!

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  3. Heidi, I am definitely going to get one of those vacuum cleaners; a friend was only telling me about it the other day. Having people over for dinners and drinks is so enjoyable but it can be extremely tiring, so I hope you enjoy the quieter weeks ahead, while relaxing in your newly finished pool! Your table settings always look gorgeous as does your cooking! What is the recipe for that delicious looking guacamole? Fifi x

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    1. I am SO pleased with it Fifi!! Definitely recommend it, and I'm whipping it out multiple times a day to clean the floors at the moment (the downside of the School Holidays!!). I'll post the Gaucamole recipe in my next blog post with a couple of other recipes, it's super easy, but delicious! Happy New Year, and hope you're having a restful time over the New Year too.

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  4. How good is the Dyson stick?! I love mine and it has really made the vacuuming so much easier. Whereas in our old house, I could do the whole place from the one powerpoint, this new one is twice the size and split over many levels and with a toddler running around, who has time to be carting heavy old roller units up and down stairs. To be able to get the Dyson out for a quick whip around has made for cleaner floors more often and that can only be a good thing!

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    1. It's a total godsend for stairs I have to say. I did the cellar stairs with it, something I haven't done in ages as the big normal model is kind of clunky for stairs and I'm always feeling like it's about to fall down the stairs if I'm not careful. Split levels are definitely a vacuuming challenge! Happy New Year!

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  5. I've got the normal Dyson but I am green with envy over your handheld as I equally seem to be hauling it out every minutes, I used to have a wee dust buster which was great, must get a hold of something like that again one day.

    Happy New Year

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    1. They do a dust buster model too Tabitha, but I wanted the stick bit as otherwise I'd be bending down all the time. I've got the big model as well, and it's just a pain to haul it out, especially multiple times a day which I sometimes need to do. Happy New Year to you too!

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  6. Happy New Year Heidi. Sounds like a great cleaning tool might look into it .I had a dust buster but didn't like it. Christmas here has been flat out my sister and brother in law have been staying with us and it's been busy their coming back tomorrow for one overnight stay before they head back home. I've loved having them and will be very sad to see them go. I love entertaining but it is exhausting. My house needs a good clean and I've usually put the Xmas decorations away by now but this year it will be Saturday before I get to it. So glad the pools ready were in for some hot days so the children will be happy.

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    1. Happy New Year to you too Karen! I had an old dust buster but it was hopeless, and I threw it out years ago. It wouldn't pick up all sorts of things - this is more like a proper vacuum cleaner, but handheld and cordless so is infinitely better. So glad the pool is in - 42C today means it will get a lot of use from us all. Enjoy the peace at your house, even if it's a little bittersweet.

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  7. I love a buffet style dinner, for some reason pre doled out plates make me antsy! But so happy for you the pool is done!mif I had a pool I would never go on holiday. I really do mean it. Do you know I hate vacuuming and I hate it being done around me. So while I don't understand the joys of a dyson, I am happy for you! I am relieved it's the new year and January will be the month to recuperate. Wishing you and yours all the best and much fun in 2015 xx

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    1. I'm always amazed at how much food people eat buffet style. It's definitely a feasting mentality that ensues! I don't actually feel like we need to get away this year due to the pool, plenty to keep everyone occupied, and we're just so enjoying the garden as well. When I think of what it all looked like this time last year…
      I'm relieved its a new year as well - 2014 wasn't much to write home about for a lot of people it seems. Happy New Year to you and S as well! xx

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  8. I'm glad you love your vacuum cleaner! Do get the oven professional cleaned! Worth it. It reminds me, I should get mind done too! I need to pull my tree down too . . . I'll do it tomorrow. Darned?? Must read up on that. HNY!

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    1. The oven will be professionally done - I don't like using oven cleaner as it's so toxic, and while I clean the oven reasonably regularly it's definitely due for a proper once over. Happy New YEar to you too Laura!

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  9. Heidi this is so funny because just before we left for the ski chalet I found that book and placed it in my living room for reading in January. I haven't read it for years but it is so inspirational and helped me to get it together at one time as far as the housekeeping goes... hopefully it will work its magic again. That Dyson looks like just the thing, I have a Miele that is quite heavy and I loathe hauling it up and down three flights of stairs, something quick and light for everyday would be perfect, I'm going to look for it.
    Very happy to hear that the pool is fully functional and that you've been busy with happy visits... wishing you a wonderful 2015!

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    1. I would absolutely expect you to have a copy of this book Dani! I was thinking of you as I read her recommendations of how a good housekeeper keeps lists, knowing your notebook system. I think with stairs you'd absolutely love the cordless Dyson - I vacuumed the stairs down to the cellar with it the other day, and it was so much easier than using the normal one. With three sets of stairs I'm sure you'd use it all the time (the charge works for 26 minutes too, so you'd get plenty done). Happy New Year to you too, and hope the Skiing holiday has a little snow and a lot of fun x

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  10. Happy New Year Heidi and I'm a bit disappointed you didn't grace us with a peek of the pool and more of the reno work rather than this Dyson business and Faux Fuchsian blasphemes....when you've had a chance to clear the dishes and put the kiddees to bed, we'd like a house tour....if you please.

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    1. Ha! Not so interested in domestic minute then?! I've got a few things up my sleeve to share house wise, so will try to put a post together. It just requires some more serious photography than whipping out my iPhone, and a little more thought.

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  11. Beautiful table settings! I love playing with "tabletop", when I finally got around to actually using my "very good" china I treated the plates to some enormous cotton damask napkins and they're not only good for ladies in hoop skirts but are great for sloppy eaters who were raised by wolves. Happy New Year!

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    1. Haha - definitely good for sloppy eaters! I must say it does feel quite luxurious to use something so large… even if they border on tablecloth size! Happy New Year to you Fred!

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  12. Happy new year to you too Heidi! I love the fact that you too don't make resolutions but do keep a list of items that need attending to around the house and future projects - me too! I was just thinking about all of the little (and some big) things I'd like to put to bed this year but my list keeps growing - ugh!

    I found the dimension comparison of your new and old napkins to be fascinating. I've never seen any as large as your old ones - I think the largest old ones I use are around 21 inches square.

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    1. My list is long too CD - this year is the year of furniture as I have a few half finished rooms and the main part of the house and garden is now complete. But the main thing is the garage, and I'll have to get on with the drawing up of the design for it soon. The existing one is really quite the eyesore.
      The napkins are huge! I suspect the dimensions were due to the pattern in the cloth - it has the family crest in the middle, and that itself is quite large with a border around it, so they obviously had some fabric woven up and then cut them up accordingly. We did puzzle over them a little as to whether they were napkins or something else, but they're far too large for a placemat, and too small for a tablecloth, so they were definitely napkins in the past. They are quite a luxurious size though, and are lovely to use.

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  13. Hi Heidi, happy New Year! Just wondering where you got the chips for the dip as I have not seen the purple variety before. Hope you are surviving the heat!!

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    1. Hi L, happy new year to you too! I am staying indoors today, and have put all the Christmas things away, which is a good task when you're trapped inside! The chips are from Foodland, and are by a brand called RW Garcia called a "Mixtbag" bag of yellow and blue corn tortilla chips. They come in a huge packet and the rest of the range by this company seem to be organic. Not sure if Coles or Woolies would stock it, but maybe in the health food section if not in the chip section? They are tasty though - plain flavour so work well with dip. Stay cool! Cannot believe how hot its got so quickly...

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  14. Have the worst internet at the beach and a really sub par foxtel package (why is it always the way?) but I am so jealous about the dyson and the book! Thanks for the shout out. I hope this message gets through xxxx

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    1. Am sure you're having a wonderful time beach-side, so I'm feeling very envious, even if I have better internet and foxtel packages here at home. It's 42C here today, so is hellishly hot!! The pool beckons. Hope you're having a wonderful start to 2015 xx

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  15. Happy New Year Heidi! I too have been cooking, cleaning and entertaining for the last two weeks and now looking forward to a rest. I have just returned from my third trip to the airport in six days - managed to outsource the other three trips as I didn't fancy six trips in six days! I have been "un-decorating" today - decorations are packed up, just waiting on my husband to take down the tree lights and pack away the tree and stow all the boxes in the high cupboards I can't reach. Your salt and pepper set and table linens are lovely. My husband asked me just the other day if I wanted a Dyson stick vacuum - think I might say yes. Looking forward to your Guacamole recipe. Have started on one of my Christmas books today - The Rosie Effect (sequel to The Rosie Project). Enjoy your weekend and keep cool. Jo xx

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    1. Oh my goodness Jo, you do sound busy!! It was no doubt a relief to deposit the last guests on the plane and come home to a quiet house, even if it did involve dismantling Christmas! A good task to do today in the heat.
      Def say yes to the Vacuum, I love mine and am using it multiple times a day. So handy. Let me know how the Rosie Effect goes - I loved the first book x

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  16. Happy New Year to you and your family! It's funny when a post about dyson sticks trigger the masses but we all need one. We're about to buy one as our dust buster just died and we need something that can zip around and clean up the cereal that misses bowls, dirt from school shoes and the dirt that gathers on stairs etc.
    thought of you when we were in noosa before Christmas as chevron was having its moment there. It was incredible as it was on homewares, rugs, placemats, towels etc and then on every type of clothing imaginable from cossies to maxis to jumpsuits. So a belated thanks again for your informative posts. Den xxx

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    1. Happy New Year to you Den! It seems that others are thinking about doing a big clean up as well after all the Christmas celebrating. This is much more powerful than a dust buster of old. I had one given as a wedding present (so it was 14 years old), and it just never cleaned much stuff up.
      Oh dear to the Chevron movement at Noosa. Don't they read my blog??! It's over! They need to move onto other geometrics or they risk being terribly passé! Enjoy the more relaxed pace of Jan xx

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  17. Happy New Year Heidi! Sounds like you had the same Xmas season we did, lots of entertaining, I'm actually over it & the cleaning, well we have an extra 4 people in the house this Xmas (2 of which a re little people) so I have just accepted the fact that the house will not look pristine ;{ Love the heirloom pots & cellars, we have some similar ones handed down from my mother-in-law on her passing. I love them & we almost received a stunning set of coloured Murano wine glasses they bought in Venice a long time ago, but my husband thought they were ugly cheap things & didn't want them and I wasn't there when the division of goods was being made & so my sister-in-law got them!!!!
    Love your Dyson by the way, have been thinking of getting one myself but was unsure how effective it would be (I do have the large Dyson, how could I have been so unsure!!!!), but reading your appraisal gives me the final impetus to head down to the shops & pick one up, many thanks.
    Enjoy the rest of the seasonal break. 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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