With Christmas entertaining approaching, and a definite change in the weather (from mild to Very Hot) in Adelaide (which always signals Christmas to me), I have been thinking about the Christmas table setting as I am in charge of it this year (Christmas will be at my Dad's place in Stirling, and will be fairly traditional as always).

Glamour Drops blog posted quite a funny post on her disdain of the "traditional"Christmas ornamentation that goes on in Australia. Despite temperatures reaching 40C, our shops are full of fake snow, icicles, snowmen and other decorations more suited to a Northern Hemisphere Christmas. I had a little search on the net for more appropriate Christmas decorating inspiration, and here are some that I think are ideal "themes" for a beautiful Australian style Christmas table.

I've also included invitations from Paperless Post, so if you're doing a drinks party for friends, and would normally send out an email, these are a great way to send out something a little more special, with not a lot of effort.

Firstly, the Neutral/ Natural Christmas - white/ burlap/ pinecones/ branches/ greenery/ candles. This can either be quite formal or a casual look depending on your china and cutlery and whether you set it indoors or out. If you don't have fir or pinecones (which we have in ample supply in Stirling), then English Box balls or mini topiaries also look fabulous.

via Paperless Post

via Paperless Post

Seaside themed Christmas - whites/ blues/ washed out timbers with natural elements such as seashells/ coral/ driftwood. I love these shell trees, and the sea urchin one too

via paperless post

Colourful Christmas - there is a lot of fluoro colour around this year, I've even seen plastic neon trees, and if you have an all white interior, this is a great way to make a statement with your decorating.  Black and Spiro always do beautiful Christmas windows full of colour and life, with not a snowman to be seen (their tree from a few years back is down lower), and this beautiful hot pink/ orange and turquoise table setting (I think it might be by Eddie Ross?) would be fab for Christmas day

Source: flickr.com via Adelaide on Pinterest

via Absolutely Beautiful Things blog

Via Paperless Post

I think I'll be embracing the setting and going with the more natural theme, there are ample fir boughs (in fact we cut down a tree from the garden each year for the Christmas tree) and pinecones and holly, and the more English style of house that my Dad lives in suits a slightly more traditional style.

What's your Christmas look going to be?

First up, a gratuitous rose shot. This one is the "Mary" rose from David Austin. It's part of the Mother in Law Christmas gift we are giving, and that I wrote about last week. So pretty.

David Austin's "Mary" rose

It's been quite hot this week, so I've had a couple of Summer dresses out for a wearing. This is a Milly dress in blue and white makes me think of blue and white china. I wore it Friday to see Skyfall and have dinner with some old School friends on a balmy night down at The Parade, Norwood. One of my friends picked me up and complimented me on the dress, which I told her I'd actually worn all day - she laughed her head off and told me I was like some sort of 1950's housewife. Possibly, but a dress is in fact quite a lazy way to dress - no need to think about separates, just zip up and go. A bit like my old School Uniform summer dress really.

Skyfall was excellent. I give it 5/5. It's quite different from the usual Bonds, very clever, not so cliched, not so much focus on the womanising and gadgets. Mr AV was green with envy that I was going without him. He was trying to gatecrash the girls dinner/ movie night. As he was on babysitting duty (although you don't actually babysit your own children, I like to point out to him) he'll be going some other time.

This dress I wore earlier in the week. It's a Lily Pulitzer shift that I've had for maybe 4 or 5 years. It's very retro 60's and I love the bright yellow. This one is a heavy linen/ cotton so I can wash it in the machine (essential for my life full of vegemite finger prints), and has other extras, like bra strap keepers (more dresses need these), is fully lined and has concealed pockets.

My children were beside themselves with excitement when their special video message from Santa (or Father Christmas as he is called in South Australia, it's a regional thing I gather) arrived in my email inbox. If you haven't tried the Portable North Pole tv, do. It's so fun - you enter some basic information on the child ( what they want for Christmas, their name, upload a photo etc) and they get a personalised message with an emailed link to it where Santa calls them by name, has a photo of them in his book, shows them around the North Pole and they see the (real) Reindeer. You can upgrade and pay for more premium options, but the free version is fantastic, so I don't feel a need to. My only word of warning is that if you choose that they are not "nice" ie "naughty" or "naughty- nice" they do get really ticked off by Santa. I did this the first year I tried it as my oldest was carrying on a lot at bedtime and driving me up the wall. Well, he was absolutely terrified that Santa was not going to deliver to him that year - behaviour improved, but he still talks about it... traumatised for life, apparently.

I bought this fairly ugly standard lamp for my daughter E's bedroom. I got it through Gumtree.com.au for $70. I'm planning on painting it white and putting a new shade on. It will go next to the armchair that I recently had reupholstered for her. When I arrived to pick it up, the lady selling it told me that she had paid.....wait for it......$1500 originally. I'm not joking. I nearly fell over - I was actually thinking I'd overpaid by $10 or so. She is moving to Queensland, and didn't want to pay to move it with them. The shade is made of silk and hand pleated with expensive cord detail, the base is made of solid mahogany and also handmade. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was about to be painted and the over the top enormous shade ditched. I had assumed when I bought it that it was stained pine, and a relic from someone's "good room" in the 80's, a prime item for a redo. My Father was horrified when I told him I was painting it (he is of the opinion that "good" wood should not be painted), but it does have a very reddish and new finish to it. Now I'm in two minds - it will definitely be improved with a new shade, but should I keep it wood? We do have a lot of dark wood pieces in our house (and her bedroom has a cedar wardrobe and chest of drawers) Opinions please!

And with the hot weather, the Cricket test on at the Adelaide Oval, and small, sick people who have been driving me up the wall, a few glasses of Pimm's have been consumed this week. Oh look, this example for the photo it isn't as full of fruit as it's supposed to be (I was too eager to drink it to do much more than put some lemon and cucumber in it), but it was still delicious, and a good way to end the evening. Last night I was sitting on the low walls around the tennis court with Mr AV, drinking this, and watching the children play in the sprinkler at twilight. They ran out their evening sillies, and didn't require a bath. Bonus.

Hope you've all had a good week. xx
I don't think there is anyone on this earth that isn't intrigued by a secret door. So many movies have someone disappearing through a bookcase, or a fireplace swinging round to reveal a hidden chamber. The book "The Secret Garden" is built around the premise of a secret door that leads into a forgotten garden. That in itself makes it so much more intriguing that just a run down garden through an open and obvious gate.

Traditionally, a secret door was employed for a few reasons: in a grand house it was to keep the servant areas concealed with direct access to the back stairs (Jeeves would just materialise in the room with a tray of G&T's). Often it was used defensively, to conceal an escape route out of a house/ castle, and more often it was used to conceal access from one bedroom to another, so that you could spend time with your Mistress discreetly.



Today, a jib door (their proper name) is used as a device by Designers to stop a room feeling like a thoroughfare, which it can easily become if multiple doorways are obtrusively positioned. Ways to create a jib door are by either by using fake book spines to create a library type feel, or by incorporating it into panelling or wallpaper, thus losing the edges of the door.

In our extension, I'm going to employ a jib door that opens to the stairs down to the cellar and Mr AV's office. To say that he is excited about the concept is an understatement. Isn't it every man's fantasy to feel just a little like James Bond? When I casually mentioned that it might be an interesting design device, he was all for it. I think he's looking forward to seeing the look on his friends faces when he opens the bookcase and takes them down to his cave. The door is from the kitchen area of the extension, and the long wall that will run along the stairs will potentially have three bookcases, one of which will be the door. Alternatively, we may end up doing a panelled look, with the door concealed in the panelling. I do quite like the idea of a library along one wall of the open plan kitchen though (it's an area that is far from the cooking/ prepping). And even better, a company I found in the UK will do a selection of books (including 5 titles that we can make up as we like - think of the possibilities!) that are beautifully leather bound will give a lovely feel and depth to the room, even if they are fake.

The English are the Kings of this - you can buy book spines by the meter to fill up empty bookcases, and there are several that offer the doors as panels of books. You can also buy book spines that conceal lever arch files, or CD's. It's the ultimate in subterfuge.

You do need to use special hinges and catches to open the door - obvious hinges will make it stand out as a door, and defeat the purpose. So will a standard door knob or pull. The jib door doesn't have to be Ye Olde Worlde in feel, either. Some of the modern examples are lovely, with simplified shelving and a much more modern aesthetic. So this is a slightly quirky addition to our renovation plans - and not a particularly expensive addition either. It's design devices like these that can add a lot of interest without much additional cost. 

This is part two of the room that we took for our ensuite bathroom and dressing room. You can find my earlier post about the ensuite here. So to recap, this is the bedroom that we took for these rooms in its original state.

This image below is the same view as above from the ensuite bathroom we created.

We knocked through from the Master Bedroom next door to enter this space, and this image is looking in through the new door we created from our Bedroom.

We dropped the ceiling in the dressing room, as I don't like overly high cupboards with shelves on top to collect dust. Open rails and shelves were needed as the multiple doors that would have ensued otherwise would have been too difficult in such a tight space (although it feels enormously large to us, as our previous fitted wardrobes were about half the size). The top handleless cupboards are large enough to hold the biggest suitcases.

I used a grey laminate for the cupboards. I love laminate. I know it's not fashionable any more - there is a love affair in Australia with 2 Pak (the sprayed and baked enamel surfaces used extensively in kitchens), but it was appropriate for the space, and was inexpensive as well. The carpet used throughout the house was also installed here, and I ran the same charcoal seagrass wallpaper on the walls and at the back of the hanging rails.

The blind is a Schumacher fabric, which I also used extensively in the Master Bedroom. I love the way that the silhouette pattern on it mimics the iron lace on the veranda outside. As we look out onto a private garden that is not overlooked, I didn't feel that there was a need for additional window treatment, such as sheers or shutters.

The shoe wall was created in the tiny space left next to the door, and fits perfectly. The shelves are angled so that we could fit more pairs in (it's usually full, but I removed the really ugly shoes, like running and cycling shoes for the purposes of the photos). We have a little space adjacent to the hydronic heating radiator where my husband's trouser valet fits, and his ties go behind the door. I'm still to get a full length mirror on the back of the door (hence the photos of me from the waist up in the bathroom whenever I do an outfit pic).

And our last addition has been the small armchair. It was from Mr AV's grandfather's estate, and is I think, very old. It is really small in scale, and incredibly heavy for it's size. I was thinking it might be early Victorian, or even late Georgian but I may be wrong and it's Edwardian instead. That would still make it 100 years old. I had it upholstered in a blue Kravet chenille and it's a good spot to put on shoes. There is a cushion to come - I apologise Faux Fuchsia. I should have issued a warning as I have no doubt traumatised you with these disturbing images of a cushion-less chair.

So a small space, but fairly well organised, and quite pleasant to be in. It's also a dark space (faces South) but the ensuite is bathed in light, so it actually works quite well as a transitional room. It has been a very difficult space to photograph though. I am most certainly an amateur photographer, and without a wide lens and a tripod, it's not been easy in such a small space to take these images, so apologies for the poor quality.

When I was a child, I was quite besotted with Beatrix Potter's Mrs Tiggy Winkle. She was so neat, clean and bustly. Her superior laundry skills ensured that all clothes were clean, mended, stain free and ironed. Something in the words in the book conjured up to me that smell of clean laundry, and the singe-y cotton smell that comes from a hot iron.

When I was 4 years old, I was given a child-sized ironing board, wooden iron and mini rotary clothes line for my Christmas present. Believe it or not, I was beside myself with joy. I would spend hours pegging out my dolls clothes and busily ironing them. 

Frankly, I wouldn't have practised quite so hard if I'd realised how much washing I'd be doing in my more advanced years.

Mrs Tiggy Winkle and I have much in common (hopefully though, I won't be quite so short, stout and wrinkly as she in later life), in that I do find much satisfaction in successful stain removal.  After the excitement on the silver cleaning post, I thought I'd share on the blog this easy stain removal method. I've told so many (amazed) mothers at school that had never known this, that it's obviously not common knowledge (although I'm betting that Deanne knows this one as well). This is the easiest way that you will ever remove red wine stains, tomato sauce based stains such as bolognase, strawberries and any other acid based fruit stain. Here is what to do:

1. Wash your clothes/ tablecloth as normal. Do not bother to treat the stain in any way. A cold wash is fine.

2. Hang your clothes on a clothes line, out on an airer, or even lay flat on an outdoor table if you don't have a line. Most importantly, put the areas with the stain in the sun. You need UV light directly on the stain for it to be removed, so don't try this on a cloudy day.

3. Leave it to dry. When you come back, the stain will be gone. If it's still there, just rewet the area under the tap and leave it again in the UV light to dry.

4. That's it. Easy. Your stain will be gone.

Here's the proof: 

my 2 year old's singlet with bolognase stain

2 hours later, all gone
Mr AV was amazed that I was able to get a large quantity of red wine out of his suit jacket the other day. All from the sun.

One thing that I am planning for our house renovation is a proper laundry. I have never had one. In Melbourne I had the ubiquitous laundry-in-the-cupboard scenario which is so common in the inner city at the three places we lived in. Prior to that, London gave me the laundry-in-the-kitchen. Currently I have a temporary laundry in the old (hideous) bathroom at the back of the house. It was jerry-rigged up by the builders for me, but is definitely no proper laundry. Images such as the following have provided me with a little inspiration:

Source: giannettiarchitects.com

Source: desiretoinspire.net

I'm thinking that as I spend so much time in the laundry, I might use a wallpaper to liven the space up a bit. It's also going to double up as a "mud room". This term was probably never known in Australia prior to Pinterest, but I've been madly pinning mud rooms as inspiration. It will be a place for school blazers, bags and muddy football shoes to be removed into individual cubbies. Very organised. 

I'm also liking the hanging Laundry Maids (not to be confused with an actual maid, which I'd also like very much), such as seen in the image above. Devol in the UK do a nice modern version, but I fear the shipping will be prohibitive. These ones are available in Australia, and I'll likely put in two to cope with the amount of laundry I do, and save on the dryer costs in Winter. As we will have such high ceilings, I should be able to dry king sized sheets on them without a problem.

To say that I'm itching for the renovation to start is an understatement. I can't wait to have the space from the new extension, as well as the storage and ease of use the new kitchen and laundry will provide. And with that, I'm going to leave you all to go and hang some washing out. Again. 
I can't say this has been the greatest week. The plague descended upon our house last weekend, when my youngest, 2 year old S. started running a high temperature and vomited. It only lasted 12 hours though, he bounced back fairly quickly. Cue my middle child, 4 year old daughter E running a high temperature and threatening to vomit (which she does fairly regularly). This lasted around 24 hours. Next up was my oldest, 7 year old H. complaining of a sore throat and with a high temperature for 48 hours. With Mr AV on a crazy week of travel criss- crossing Australia, highly stressed, still jet lagged and suffering the worst of all ailments - When Deals Go Horribly Wrong, you can guess that it was only a matter of time before he collapsed as well. With raging tonsilitis. On the mend now with a few days of antibiotics under his belt, but it has meant that I've had a fairly bad week. Lack of sleep being up with small grumpy children does that to one. Fingers crossed I stay healthy.

In between sick children (and Sick Husband, the worst situation of them all), I did manage to get out and about. Working backward, last night I escaped the House of the Plague, and went to see Mozart's Requiem performed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at the Town Hall with my Dad. It was lovely, and strangely enough after saying that I hadn't seen a performance of the Requiem for ages (although you certainly hear it all the time as background music for Car advertisements), I had a sudden flash back to July, where I had a fleeting visit to Melbourne of under 24 hours to see the Requiem performed by Orchestra Victoria at the Recital Hall. I had completely forgotten about it. Last night I wore this emerald green silk Kate Spade top and seaglass green Kate Spade necklace. Disclaimer: my arms are not this scarily twig like in real life, it's a strange optical illusion (why does this never happen with my hips?).

I also had a day out shopping with a friend during the week. I Never do this. Really, I can't remember the last time I went shopping with anyone. Mostly because I'm so talented at shopping on the net, but also because shopping with small children is just tortuous (and most of my friends have them as well = double torture). Child free, we went down King William Road in Hyde Park, and when I saw this dress in Denim Iniquity, I knew that it was highly likely I was going to break my self imposed No More Shopping for Summer ban even before I tried it on. Doesn't it look suspiciously like a blown up Liberty print pattern (that appears on one of E.'s skirts I blogged about here).

E's skirt

 It was only by closer comparison at home that it appears to be a "tribute" to this liberty print - slightly different floral pattern, scale and colours, but similar nonetheless. I know I said I wouldn't buy any liberty print for myself.....but I bought this one (and technically it's not liberty print anyway). E is thrilled that we can do a matching mother/daughter look.

In gardening news, I've spent the week with my landscape guy trying to work out where a leak is from the automatic watering system. Thrilling. But I've also planted out some of my cuttings, which are doing well. I also did the rounds of the all the local nurseries trying to find some David Austin roses for my Mother in Law's Christmas present (hard at this time of year to get multiples of the same type). Now that I have them all home, I'm so tempted to keep them - aren't they pretty?

I'm gardening by stealth at my In Law's. After subdividing part of their garden and putting two houses on it, they have been left with two large and very empty garden beds in the remaining garden. The beds have stayed like this for the past year and a half. I've been busy planting things every now and again - they are not gardeners and are waiting to do the garden up with the landscaper.....eventually. My Mother in Law loves roses, and is very pleased that we gave some for her Birthday present in the middle of the year, so we have some more (my sisters in law have also contributed), and I'm going to plant some of the salvia cuttings I grew, and replant some of the flag irises that are growing in the gravel along their driveway in amongst the roses. I think in another year or two I might have filled up one of the garden beds for her.

And I've almost finished the book Wild Swans, by Jung Cheng, which is for my bookclub. I'm not sure what possessed the girl who chose it in the group to select a book in excess of 700 pages, but I've been wading through it - it's a history of Communism through the life of one family in China - a biography that is celebrating it's 21st year since it was initially published. I've enjoyed it, but have had some strange dreams whereby I'm a Communist in China in the 1950's. Disturbing. I've stopped reading it before bed as a result.

Hope you've escaped the Plague in your house and had a better week than me! 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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