Hello! It's been busy around here. My children went back to school last week after the long Summer holidays, which necessitated a panicky few days of Uniform purchasing (after they'd outgrown key pieces during their holiday), lunchbox locating, and the attempt to get back into a routine in the morning.

Additionally, last weekend Mr AV and I hosted a small party for our joint 40th Birthdays. Mr AV had his 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago, while we were away on holiday. I'm happy he can no longer refer to me as a "cougar" which he seemed to find very funny as he'd talk about our "decade of age difference" quite a bit (we are 5 weeks apart in age), which I did not find amusing, at all. We had 43 friends to dinner on Saturday night, so that's kept me busy for the past few weeks as I tried to tie up loose ends and make sure that the basics were covered (food/ drink/ music) and the details were somewhat refined. And just in case you were wondering.. no I did not do the cooking! We hired in a caterer, as I wanted to have an enjoyable night too.


We held the party outdoors, with a long table down the centre of our lawn. You are almost guaranteed to have weather in the high 30C range at the end of January in Adelaide, but this year's Summer has been incredibly cool. I realise that a maximum temperature of 24C is positively balmy to an English person, but here in Adelaide it feels a little chilly…. unfortunately that was what we were facing, so a quick hire of some outdoor heaters helped, and I put out a big wicker laundry basket of my pashminas and rugs so that anyone feeling cold could help themselves. As you can see from these photos taken 5 minutes before the guests arrived we had gloomy grey skies as well. In my head I themed it "English Garden Party" as it really reminded me of an English summers day....


The table setting matched the invitation, which I'd had printed up by Paperless post (they do print invitations as well as e- invitations) here. The paper quality is excellent - nice and thick, and the stripe continues over the back of the invitation as well. Here's a screenshot of their example card


The table had a black tablecloth with a black and white striped runner made out of, what else, but Wallpaper! Porter's Classic Black and White stripe. My Dad pruned one of his Vibernum hedges for me, so I scattered some of the greenery down the table, and with the hired LED candles (so they wouldn't blow out) as the only lighting for the evening, plus some gold lacquer chargers, it came together nicely.


By far one of the best features of the table was the beautiful Menu/ place cards that the very creative Laura from Neoreverie did for me. She hand calligraphied each guests name on the top of the menu she designed in gold ink, and I secured them to the napkins with a strip of black satin ribbon (to stop them blowing away). They looked amazing!



 I wore a dress I already had in my wardrobe (Mr AV was completely shocked I hadn't bought anything new, but I'm sticking to my No More Party Dress rule), it was my blue and white silk Collette Dinnigan maxi dress last worn to a ball. With my hair down, it looked more casual. I wore it with the bracelet that Mr AV gave to me for my 40th birthday and drop earrings I already had that match. Mr AV decided to match me, and also dressed in blue.


It was such a fun night! It was a sort of unofficial house warming party - up until the past month we really haven't had very many people over. A lot of our friends still hadn't been over to see the finished renovation, and it's been the entire 4 years that we've lived in Adelaide now that we've not been able to host a large crowd, so it was great to finally enjoy the house to its fullest.

After dark the table looked amazing all lit up by the candles. Mr AV's best mate gave a very funny speech accompanied by rather embarrassing childhood photos of us both and we booted the last guests out at around 4am after a bit of dancing (with a few that had to stay the night in the Kid's beds - they were having a sleepover at their grandparent's).


So that was it - hopefully this will kick off the next decade of time spent with family and friends and enjoying the home we've worked to hard to create the past few years.

Apologies for the lack of replies to your comments on the last few posts, unfortunately it got away from me. I'll go back and reply now, as well as make my way around my favourite blogs to see what you've all been up to. Hope you had a great weekend!

76 comments:

  1. oh my what a gorgeous party! your table and invitations are stunning. it sounds like you had such a good time...4am! i am 7 days older than larry and he never lets me forget it. xo

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    1. Thanks Janet! It was a really fun night and I think there were a few sore heads the next day as it seems quite a few forgot our now advanced age and behaved like they were still 20 instead!
      Hilarious re Larry and only 7 days difference! x

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  2. Happy birthday you two- what a fabulous gathering. All the very best of luck and health and happiness xxx

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    1. Thanks Cilla! Hoping we're moving into a good decade now x

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  3. Wow Heidi, that looks amazing! Wishing you and the Mister all the best for your birthdays and, as you said, many wonderful years enjoying the home that you have worked so hard to build.

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    1. Thank you Patricia! We're so enjoying being able to have people over, and it's given us a lot of pleasure the past few months x

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  4. ....and what a party...! xo

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  5. Happy birthdays! ... and, thank you for sharing a lovely memory. May there be many more.

    Linda C.

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    1. Thank you Linda, I wasn't sure if anyone would find it interesting, so I'm glad to hear you did. Hoping for a lot more parties and happy times in the future in this house, and for you too! x

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  6. Happy Birthday Heidi, you spring chicken. Sounds like a fun night was had by all. And how lovely to have the garden finished.

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    1. Thanks Kris, and thanks for calling me a spring chicken! I definitely felt my age the next day…
      Was a great way to celebrate the end of the renovation and the garden being almost there as well x

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  7. What a memorable night! Love all the little details, how nice to combine the birthdays and housewarming and have a big party. And you, a couger... ha!

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    1. Well, I don't mind a little leopard print, but Mr AV was stretching it a little by that 5 week age difference! x

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  8. This looks to have been a very stylish and memorable evening. Congratulations to you both and it is true what they say, life does begin at 40.

    So happy that you are finally enjoying all of your hard work on the house. The best memories are created when shared with good friends over wonderful meals and fun gatherings such as your party.

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    1. Thanks CD, it was a lot of fun, and I completely agree with you about life beginning at 40! I think we've got it off to a good start at any rate x

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  9. Congrats to you both on the big 40. As FF would say...SOOOO YOUNG!!!!!!!!
    Off topic a bit but can you tell me where you stay on Kangaroo Island, Heidi. We hope to go for a vist late April and any recs would be greatly appreciated.
    Melody

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    1. We love KI! I use stays.com to find accommodation, and our preferred spot is on Island Beach. It's close to Penneshaw (where the ferry comes in, and which has a great pub and decent sized supermarket) and is probably the nicest beach. I'm not so keen on the South side of the Island as it's a lot colder and the sea is rougher (more ocean beach). Emu Bay is also a good spot, but is much further from the Ferry and is closer to Kingscote (which is the main town and a lot larger than Penneshaw), so something to factor in if you're driving and using the Ferry and have children who just want to get there!

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    2. sorry, that autocorrected - it's stayz.com.au!

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    3. Thanks for the info, Heidi. Is there any good eating places on KI or is it a do-it-yourself sort of place??
      Melody

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    4. It's more a sort of DIY place. The pubs are both good (Penneshaw Pub is really nice and has a great view as well from the beer garden over the sea), and in Penneshaw there's a pizza place and another restaurant that are ok. We've not stayed near Kingscote but as it's bigger there's bound to be a couple of options (we had lunch in the pub a couple of times). But in general I do most of the cooking and have one or two nights out. Lunches are easy as there are lots of milk bars/ small cafes etc when you're out and about. The caravan park cafe at Shoals Bay (the hidden beach) does a good lunch or dinner surprisingly, very gourmet with a good wine list (and prices to match).

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    5. Thanks Heidi
      Cheers
      Melody

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  10. Happy Birthday Heidi.Your home looks beautiful, a real oasis for your family. May I ask about your Swingrest (looking back to your previous post) - did you source it within Australia?
    Jo x (in Perth)

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    1. Hi Jo, thanks for the birthday wishes. The Swingrest is from Dedon (French company), and is available from Cult Design http://cultdesign.com.au/about/locations/perth.html who have a retail shop in Perth. Hope that helps! x

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    2. Thanks so much!
      Jo x

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  11. Happy Birthday to both of you!
    Love a garden party and love the colours/theme you've chosen - you have a great eye!

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    1. Thanks Anna, it was a lot of fun! x

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  12. Hello Heidi,

    This all looks so beautifully stylish and great fun too. A difficult combination to manage, but you have achieved it seemingly effortlessly.

    Even at the height of summer, every guest would have caught hypothermia by the early hours of the morning in an English garden. We know only too well from bitter experience! But, this looks to have been exactly right and very sensible to have left all the food in the hands of caterers.

    Your dress is so very pretty. What a glamorous pair you both make. Happy Birthdays and many, many happy returns!

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    1. Thank you Jane and Lance for your birthday wishes and kind comments. You've made me laugh a lot about your comments on the English garden party and hypothermia! I'll never forget sitting on the bus in London when I lived there and hearing two girls talking about the "heat wave", thinking they were referring to a holiday in Greece or something, and then realising they were referring to the very mild weather we were experiencing in London!

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  13. THE BAUBLES ON THE WRIST!!!! WOW better then any ol watch I say hehehehe. Extremely lovely!
    Honestly it is a spin out seeing the menu's in these pics LOL. Me sitting at my dining table writing them out and there they are a super glamorous party in Adelaide!! It looks like it was a great night!

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    1. I was very lucky, and quite happy with the alternative gift to the watch! He actually thought I might reject it though! So funny.
      Laura, you did the best job! I hope you get lots of work out of this post, as you really deserve it - they were beautiful and a credit to your creativity. Thank you x

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  14. The setting, table and you all look so pretty! Cracking up you needed heaters though bc if I had heaters at that temperature people would have thought it was a bikram yoga class!!! Mr csw is a year older and he's lways telling me to respect my elders and says he has more life experience so he knows better...you can't win I tell you! Happy belated to Mr AV too xx

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    1. It was colder at night once the sun went down! Around 17C maybe? But yes, we had one English guest who told me it was lovely and balmy and he was seriously contemplating a swim at 2am! I had a cardigan on most of the night too!
      Hilarious re Mr CSW, I've tried that argument with Mr AV about knowing more than him, but it doesn't seem to wash…! xx

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  15. Your party looks amazing Heidi - love the black/white/gold theme and Laura's calligraphy is just lovely. Good to have a caterer in so you could enjoy the party too. I don't understand Adelaide's weather at the moment - as you said, it has been quite mild, but I got a very large electricity bill in the post today and we really haven't been running the air conditioning that much! Normally we should be able to host an evening event in Adelaide in late January and not be worrying about the weather. I think summer is about to hit with a vengeance though Did you go to back to KI for your recent holiday? A big happy birthday to you and Mr AV. I turned 46 two weeks ago so I have a few years up on you - I am now officially closer to 50 than 40, as my husband kindly pointed out!! Here's to an amazing year/decade. Jo xx

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    1. Thanks Jo. I don't understand the weather! It's so weird, when we set the date a few months ago I'd never have thought it'd be so cool - more worried about the opposite really. That's very weird about your electricity bill… was it estimated on the meter rather than read maybe? I was commenting today that we've hardly had our aircon on this Summer too.
      We had our holiday this year in Queensland, which was likely a good thing as KI is so much cooler than Adelaide and it's hardly been beachy weather! Happy Birthday to you too! And what is it about husbands and the things they say on your birthday??! x

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  16. Gorgeous and my colour scheme too. Great ideas for our 50th next year, we are two weeks apart with me being the wiser and first born too. Interested to know what your menu was.

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    1. Sounds like a great reason to be planning a big party, and the black and white works as a good unisex colour scheme I think. The menu was an entree of Avocado and Prawn Tian with a watercress salad, main was fillet of beef with red wine sauce on mashed potato/sweet potato (it was delicious and there has been a lot of positive feedback on that from both males and females), and individual pavlovas for dessert. There were a few hors d'oeuvres to start and then I put out cheese platters later after the meal. I wish I'd taken more photos, including the food, but I was too busy talking to remember to… as was everyone else. Not many photos have surfaced of the nice (which is kind of nice in a way in this day and age of Facebook and Instagram and people interacting electronically rather than face to face)

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  17. Happy birthday! Wow, I am impressed by the beauty of it all, but that you have 43 people you count as close friends! But you are awfully lovely, so really no surprise....24 Celsius is def. Balmy here in a summer evening, what would be your normal temps?

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    1. Ah, it's all Mr AV - he's a charmer and has a lot of very old friends in his life, and now their lovely wives as well! It was 24C as a maximum during the day, so after the sun went down it was around 17C, which felt a bit cold to all the Aussies. Usually at this time of year it's a maximum around the mid- high 30s and a minimum around 23-25C, which makes quite a difference. As you'd expect, that's the weather we're having this weekend… why couldn't it have been last weekends?! But it could have easily been the other extreme and been 40C plus with a minimum around 34C which is equally unpleasant I guess….

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  18. Hi Heidi Happy Birthday to you both. I'm glad the celebration wasn't spoilt by the weather. The weather here has been a little cool but I'm loving it. When I turned forty I had an eight year now he's twenty eight. No idea were the times gone so enjoy every minute because it will fly.

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    1. Well, we're certainly getting a blast of heat this weekend to make up for the past 4 weeks of cool weather! You've scared me a little with the story of your son… time does indeed fly. I can remember my Mum's 40th quite clearly, and thinking she was old! Funny how it doesn't feel old when you get there yourself…!

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  19. This all looks amazing Heidi - what a fitting way to celebrate in the 'new' garden. I love all the details. Was the food good? Dress looks fab and I love that you coordinated. xxx

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    1. Thanks Charlotte, it was perfect to be able to celebrate in the garden. The food was excellent, we had a lot of raves about it which was nice. Funnily enough we coordinate quite often - he'll wear a tie that matches my dress or something, but I'm not sure it's ever intentional?!

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    2. What a lovely setting and nice that you were able to combine the finished renovations and the two big birthdays! Everything looks perfect and very classy. Your guests must have felt very special sitting at they gorgeous long table.I actually bought some of those LED candles the other day and today I bought some fake Waratahs. (I hardly know myself) In my defence, they are very, very realistic and I needed a touch of red in the family room. I put real gum leaves with them to compensate. I’m wondering if you have wired up for music outside? It’s something we are contemplating. Anyhows - Happy 40th to you both and what a striking couple you looked. Tonkath

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  20. How beautiful, a very Happy Birthday to you, you are so young Heidi!
    I love your table setting, for years I have searched for black and white stripe wrapping paper for Christmas time.

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    1. Thanks Tabs. You know I had the initial idea of finding black and white striped wrapping paper to do a roll down the table, but couldn't find any! Clearly a gap in the market. Not sure you'd want to wrap your presents in wallpaper as it is a bit stiff and thick, but it did work well for a table runner.

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    2. Thick black and white stripe wallpaper/fabric... classic Timney Fowler.

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  21. Oh my goodness Happy Birthday dearest Heidi and to the very fortunate Mr. AV. I can tell GSL singing the blues to you blonds has you, FF, and Jody finally seeing the light and what a fabulous light that Collette Dinnigen maxi shines on our gorgeous erstwhile 'cougar'.
    I do hope a charming recollection of '4 Weddings' had your guests getting their misty-eyed giggle on...if not then I'll need to prep Mr. AV for your 50th...

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    1. Cougar no longer G! Now we're all caught up in age I'll put that one to rest for another 10 years at least! I did in fact give a speech, and had all sorts of detail in it, but cut it back and cut it back (as I tend to be naturally long winded in my story telling according to Mr AV) so 4 weddings did not get a mention. But the main speaker gave a fabulous account of our meeting, which was entirely fictitious and kept the audience laughing so that worked well instead (and was much more entertaining!)

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  22. Happy birthday Heidi! What a splendid affair. That Laura is a clever girl. Love her style and DIY efforts. Here's to a fabulous decade x

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    1. She is a clever chicken! I'm hoping we've kicked off a good decade ahead. The last 5 years have been a bit of a grind to be honest...

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  23. Belated happy birthday wishes to you and your husband! What a fabulous party, and what a great way to start the new decade! You look gorgeous - the Collette Dinnigan dress is perfection on you and fabulous bracelet (much more fun than a watch!).

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    1. Thanks Louise, I so wish Collette Dinnigan had not decided to stop designing. Her dresses were so beautiful. And I was very lucky with the bracelet, and yes indeed much more fun than a watch! x

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  24. It's been a while since my 40th, but I remember it like it was yesterday despite the slew of Margaritas that would have made a Mexican blush. I had a very big night in a private room at The Rising Sun - they still won't let me back, so I have to book for lunch under a pseudonym :(
    Your soiree looked very elegant, but I would have had to ask for an electric blanket switched on high to wrap around me. And as 40 is the new 20, I reckon you 2 gorgeous people are just about to hit your stride!!
    Love Millie xx

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    1. Hilarious re Rising Sun! I'm sure they've seen some pretty rowdy events, so your 40th must've been an awful lot of fun Millie to have you assuming another identity to get back in!
      I'm looking forward to the 40's I have to say. 20's are highly overrated (aside from the glowing complexion no matter how late you've been up and how little sleep you have under your belt). xx

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  25. Oh Heidi this looks super swish - all so elegant in the black and white against your garden which has established itself impossibly quickly. And how marvellous to have a garden big enough to even house a table that enormous - and looks like plenty of room to spare.

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    1. The garden is doing really well! There were a few weeds in the very back that I hadn't managed to get to before the party, so I think you can say everything is growing well. There was a bit of room beyond the table - we tried to keep it up toward the house so that guests wouldn't have a view of the back of the pool area and the ugly falling down shed full of…crap…! Next project to work on...

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  26. I recently stumbled upon your blog and just wanted to tell you how much I love your style and your writing. I've read a few of your old posts and the topics you discuss are so interesting and detailed. Now I want to go back and read from the beginning!

    Your garden party looks stunning. I'd love to host a long table dinner party for my husband's 40th - I've got three years to plan it. Thanks for the inspiration. Denita x

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    1. Thanks Denita! That's so kind of you to leave such a nice message. The long table format worked really well, and with three years to plan ahead of you I'm sure you'll be able to knock the party out of the ballpark with all the details! x

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  27. What a wonderful celebration, the pleasure of eating out of doors and dancing under the stars with a great group of friends. Nothing nicer! I have to laugh at your description of an English summer's day - 24c- now that would be good!

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    1. Do you know, I think 24 in England does in fact feel a lot warmer than 24 in Australia on a Summer's day! We're now being blasted by heat this weekend - yesterday was 39C and it was around 30C at about 11pm when we came home from dinner out, and I was thinking "why not last weekend??!" But then I think we would have had a lot of guests in the pool, so probably not a bad thing it was cooler...

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  28. Oh Happy Birthday beautiful. You and your husband are so young! (Even though he's husband the younger. He'd have a field day with me and the hubstar who is FIVE years younger than me and those five years are now evident as he has the no wrinkle genes.)
    What a beautiful table, yoru usual elegance and restraint, love how you have the stripes, touch of yellow and leaves, perfection. And good on you for the caterers!
    How gorgeous do you look in silk Collette Dinnigan. Just perfection. Im with you on the no more party dresses - except for Harley's graduation for which I might get a white suit - but that dress is so versatile, The mention of old Colette. is going to put me in a tailspin of browsing on her site -
    Truth to tell, we hardly have anyone over these days - it used to be every Friday we'd have a big bash. Sat morn clink of bottles was what my kids grew up with. Well at least they have the authentic Kiwi experience...
    Anyway.... Happy Happy Birthday Heidi to a wonderful writer, designer and bloggy friend.

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    1. Thanks Jody! The benefit of having an anonymous blog is I can fool you all into thinking I'm younger than I look as you can't see the wrinkly visage!! Although yesterday one of the school mum's at pick up was shocked I was 40 as she thought I was 35, so that was nice (and it seemed genuine… either that or she is a very good flatterer!). I love that Collette Dinnigan, but you know she's actually stopped designing!! It's so upsetting, so that is the last dress of hers I purchased from her last collection after she announced her retirement over a year and a bit ago.
      I think small children induce one to have a bit of a knees up in celebration that you've survived another week! And definitely know the clink of the recycle bin here too…! xx

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  29. Oh Heidi, to be 40 again, you spring chicken indeed! What a beautiful theme for a table setting & what a wonderful setting for a party, it certainly seems like all that hard work, blood, sweat & tears was worth it. I hope first weeks back to school have calmed down, we just finished our second week & I think we are into the swing of it already. Have a happy weekend. xx

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    1. Thanks Engracia, it definitely made all the hard slog on the garden worth it to have a good celebration at the end. Just feel like I'm starting to settle into the school term again… not enjoying waking up to an alarm, but oh well! x

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  30. Oh my god it looks so beautiful! I am so mad I'm just seeing this! My feed is all messed up and not telling me when a lot of blogs update! Happy birthday! And I wish I could have attended this. I love black and white and would have fit right in. I have a big birthday coming up and am not sure how to handle it. I would honestly like to have a dinner party but feel uncomfortable inviting people for MY birthday. I hate it when other people throw me parties though. I think it's best as a couple to have one for each other as you did. You and FF should come to mine in May! I have guest bedrooms that will suit you perfectly! Sorry I'm late again!

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    1. Thanks Stephen, I would have LOVED to have had all my blogging friends along, we would have had so much fun!!
      I think you should definitely throw yourself a dinner party. Everyone loves a party, and won't care if you're throwing it for yourself… and know what you mean about other people throwing you parties.
      I'd SO LOVE to come to come to it in May - it would have superior food, excellent decor and of course with you as host it would be the best fun!!.Why do you have to live in the US?? Move to Australia!

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  31. Heidi, That gorgeous table looks as though it goes on forever! So pleased you were able to celebrate both your birthdays with your friends so beautifully in your own garden!
    After all the hard work you've put in during the last few years you certainly deserved to have someone cater and take any stress out - and the fabulous pearl bracelet. It really worked out so well that the watch shop wouldn't open their doors for N a little early. I'm sure there'll be a great watch in the next year or so. Just from another place.
    The Collette Dinnigan looks fabulous, remember your story about buying it. Love the colour of N's jacket and shirt too!
    Can't even remember my 40th! Don't think we did anything special, probably just went somewhere nice for dinner. Nowadays we usually seem to be overseas on my birthday (this time it will be Marseille) and in Paris on our wedding anniversary, just how the timing works out. Last year we celebrated at Le Grand Vefour, at Romy's suggestion. Maybe we'll try the Tour d'Argent this time. It's lovely, but would be nice to be able to celebrate with family and friends, as you have. Many thanks for your kind note.
    It was wonderful to catch up with FF in Brisbane - we were there for a few days to attend G's old aunt's (the family matriarch) funeral and the wake to celebrate her life. She only just missed living to 100 so it wasn't really a sad occasion and was wonderful for him to catch up with many people he hadn't seen for years! She'd have been terribly chuffed at the number of her descendants and her sisters' who gathered from around the world, down to latest great great grandchild. Pammie xxx

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  32. Happy Birthdays all round!
    Ooh, how fabulous that table looks. Very glam!
    And you both look rather well turned out too.
    What a difference it makes having a catering company do all the slog.
    So much more relaxing for the hostess.
    It all looks lovely, but I wouldn't expect anything less from someone so stylish!

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  33. Heidi a very Happy Birthday to you both! Very glad you're not a cougar any longer, what a title to hold (rolling eyes). Your dress is perfect and goes really well with MrAV's outfit, and the table! I love it! The colour scheme so perfect for a joint birthday too.
    I had my 40th at my friend Christopher's house, he did the flowers and MrBP hired the caterer and bartender, it was a great night, we had English weather too, (it was June) which is the best we can hope for here at any time ;)
    I hope the children are back in a good routine after their holidays, getting adjusted to those mornings again (with the -groan- lunchboxes) is no small feat. xox

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  34. Very belated Happy Birthday Heidi , the party looks gorgeous and the lawn is so green !

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  35. Happy Birthday, everything is divine and gorgeous. 40! So young! Luff it all.

    How lucky I am that you popped into my life x

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  36. PS luff the dress the pearls the matching and the garden x

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  37. Random question, Heidi - but any tips on how much alcohol to purchase for a party of 40 people as a guide? My husband is 40 soon and we are looking at having a little soiree at home but so hard to know how much alcohol to purchase!!! Any tips? Loved the look of yours, stunning!

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    1. Hard to remember exactly Olivia, we went with what the caterer suggested, but I think from memory it was:
      1 dozen bottles Pinot Noir
      1 dozen bottles Cab Sav
      1 dozen bottles Champagne
      1 dozen bottles Sav blanc
      1 dozen bottles Riesling
      1 dozen bottles desert wine
      4 cartons beer
      6 bottles gin

      We had a lot left over - probably 5 bottles of champagne, 8 bottles Sav Blanc, 8 bottles Riesling, half the beer, 6 bottles Pinot and 6 bottles Cab Sav, 8 bottles desert wine.
      Everyone got stuck into the Gin and they drank us dry (including the bottles in the sitting room!). So a lot left over, but that might give you a guide line for how much to buy in. We wanted a choice for wine with dinner, and all the leftover went into the cellar which needed stocking anyway.

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    2. Very helpful, thanks so much. Always so hard to know!

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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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