This week has been very mild, weather wise. Days of 18C have meant that I had a pleasant surprise to find that one of the buds (that I assumed would either rot or be pruned off by me in the next few weeks) on my rose bush opened up and produced this stunner

David Austin's Sharifa Asma

I picked it and put it on my bedside table where it has perfumed my sleep with dreams of Summer days.

I have been ploughing through the pile of books on my bedside table, frankly there is very little on tv to grab me at the moment, especially now that Mad Men series 5 has finished, although I was thrilled to find a new gardening series "Alan's Garden Secrets" where Alan Titchmarsh visited Sissinghurst... except unfortunately it was episode 4, the final one. I've missed all the rest! 

I also reflected on the fact that I am fast becoming my parents (ie old), where a Friday night in, watching gardening programs on TV, is more interesting to me than dressing up and going out for drinks somewhere. 

One book that I've finished this week was "Diana Mosley" by Anne de Courcy. She was formerly known as Diana Mittford, or Diana Guinness after her glittering first marriage which she threw away for Sir Oswald Mosely, the head of the British Union of Fascists, which scandalised society in Britain at the time. It was completely fascinating, I particularly enjoyed reading about the time she spent in prison during WW2 due to her fascist sympathies (held without charge for the entire time). She had a total adoration for her second husband, which made a highly intelligent, vivacious, and stunningly beautiful woman supportive of his fascist views and political party and to turn a blind eye to his many infidelities. 

Now for some random scenes from the week - this picture above might make you think that I've been in the country, but it's actually the North Adelaide parklands, around 1 KM from the CBD. The parklands in Adelaide ring the entire city centre, with the suburbs beyond. They're the width of a cannon throw (as the design of Adelaide was from a Military plan - there was some thought from the early settlers that the Aboriginals might attack them, something which never occurred). There are horses in the distance, people adgist them in the parklands and ride them. Not sure there are too many places left where you can have your pony living so close to the city.

Beautiful irises on my hall table in my favourite Alvar Aalto wave vase (makes flower arranging very easy)

I've churned out three of the Thermomix "Too Easy Chocolate Cake" this week. The recipe is pretty much identical to the Simplicity Chocolate Cake recipe that my mum used to make so often she knew it by heart. It's a fantastic recipe - the result is a very light, moist cake.

1tsp Vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
170 grams melted butter
2 tbsp Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Self Raising flour
1 Cup Sugar

Mix in a food processor and put into a 170 C oven for approx 40 min. A ring tin works best, but a 20cm Square tin will also do the trick.

I've attempted to copy Romy and did a wonky version of the scarf knot she gave a demo on in her blog. I think MaiTai has nothing to worry about in the scarf blogging stakes with me..... this scarf was my last birthday present from Mr AV, the pattern is Circuit 24 Faubourg.

Outdoor dining area

Finally, more frame progress on the extension. They've put up the roof trusses over the outdoor dining area, moved the window that was bugging me, and started putting up the ceiling lantern. This week they will start brickwork, finish the framing, and the windows are supposed to arrive (although they were supposed to come a few weeks ago, but were delayed).

Looking into the living room, they've changed the window on the back wall on the left 

 Ceiling lantern framing over the living room, the ceiling is raking up to it

Finally, quite excitingly, they removed the boards protecting the back door into the hallway. It's been boarded up since March, and the hall has been like a dark pit. I can't tell you what a difference it's made to have the light come back in.... even if it does highlight the large volumes of dust I'm constantly cleaning up. Little steps forward....

 children's toy area at the end of the hallway

 Hope you had a good week xx
As I discussed many months ago now on the blog, I've become increasingly more concerned with trying to support Australian businesses - both food producers and also fashion. Unfortunately with fashion, there are not many options out there where the clothes are designed and also manufactured in Australia.

Most manufacturing is now done overseas to an Australian designers specifications, or even worse the chain stores just buy a ready made range or pieces to complement their "designed" collection from an overseas factory and have their label sewn into it (common practice when I was working in clothes stores back in the 90's and we'd see the exact same things in Witchery, Esprit, Country Road and Sportsgirl - all identical but with a different label in them and different price tags depending on which store was more upmarket. We used to use it as a sales pitch...).

me in a Cable Melbourne jumper/ sweater

Over the past decade more and more manufacturing has shifted off shore, and less and less is made here. I'm not one to support businesses that don't deserve to be here - for a long time we've put up with high prices on cheap items made in sweatshops in Asia, marketed by Australian businesses who now cry poor because the internet and a strong Australian dollar make purchasing off shore more attractive. But there are a few local designers and manufacturers that I think are world class, and Cable Melbourne is one of them.

Cable Melbourne, is as the name suggests, based out of Melbourne and uses Australian Merino wool to produce a truly suburb knitwear range. They're a reasonably new company (2007), I first stumbled over their tiny shop in Beatty Avenue, Armadale (suburb of Melbourne) around 3 or 4 years ago and fell in love with the quality of the knitwear, and the really lovely designs and colours. Their stuff is not cheap, frankly anything made locally is never going to be cheap due to our high minimum wage compared to the rest of the world. But I don't think the pricing is crazy for the beautiful quality of the items, and on sale they really are excellent value for money. Knits that I bought back then (and have worn so frequently that Mr AV refers to them as my Uniform) still have not pilled, keep their shape despite frequent washing, have not spontaneously developed holes and are toasty warm. Best of all, they look so good. I'm frequently complimented on my cardigans in Winter, and asked where I get them from.

So while I think the term "Investment Dressing" is an oxymoron if ever there were one, I do consider these to be very wise purchases. Something that you wear almost daily for 4 months of the year is a good buy. I find a long line cardigan is flattering, works well for day wear for me, and if it has an interesting design to it instantly looks quite dressy when paired with basic skinny jeans and flats. I'll also wear the long line cardi like a coat, over the top of a dress or skirt and boots and it can look quite dressy.

The most worn cardi that Mr AV calls my "Uniform"

So I thought I'd share this range with you, especially as we've really only just hit Winter, and the Sale has already started there... I can also vouch for their range of "basics" - great layering pieces that are not itchy against the skin.

Too often we look to overseas designers or companies for "quality" items. There's been a lot of push into the Australian consciousness  about Cashmere (although much of what we get is the poor quality Chinese cashmere, and not the Scottish extra fine and extra long fibre), but Australian Merino Wool and our wool in general is recognised the word over for its superior quality. Cable Melbourne has the coveted Woolmark and is part of Prince Charles' Campaign for Wool, so is well worth supporting.

I'm always interested to hear of other manufacturers and designers that are local, so do leave a comment if you know of others that might be of interest to me or to other readers.

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I have decided I have a problem. Probably not an actual diagnosable mental illness, as the blog title might suggest, but I think I suffer from Design Schizophrenia.

Syon House

I like quite opposite design styles. I've always loved decoration and embellishment in design.... old houses with their elaborate plaster cornices and ceiling roses, stately homes in other countries with their swags of Grinling Gibbons fruit in between elaborate plaster pilasters. I like classical proportions (which I think have been perfected over time to be perfectly in synch with the human proportions), and classical detailing.

Grinling Gibbons carving via Pinterest

I also like a modernist, minimalist Architectural style. Partly this has been trained into me through my years of study, partly this is something that I'm drawn too for the purity and simplicity, that sense of quietness that it can give. I quite like John Pawson's Architectural designs for instance, and he is really at the pointy end of minimalism, although I'm not sure that I could actually live with it for too long. I'd start sneaking in pretty things that took my eye, magpie like, and they'd inevitably ruin his purity of space.

So what has happened with this problem is that it has caused me much angst with my kitchen design. Not all the problems with the kitchen design have been caused by Mr AV and his niggly little design changes. Some of the reluctance on my part to finish the damn thing off is that I have been mulling over what actual design style I will embrace.

You see, I like this

And also this

And they are quite different.

I think that part of my wavering on it has been caused by two things. One, I'm always hesitant to embrace timber veneer colours in a kitchen, as they are fashionable, and can look absolutely dreadful in ten years time, and this is what I'd be looking at for a very simple, modernist style kitchen due to the flooring choice. But I'm also hesitant of committing to a classical design style that is somewhat safe. I do want to push myself to produce something interesting, but that doesn't date. I think I've probably set the bar too high, really.

So, the deadline is looming for the completion of the drawings. It's being forced upon me by the simple fact that unless I commit to something, I'll end up with nothing. And frankly, I really don't want to use my existing kitchen for one second later than I have to.

So I've become nearly certifiable over this... and really, how ridiculous! Time to let the design guru make a decision for me (Mr AV, with his new found confidence in expressing his opinion on all sorts of design related matters I thought he'd have no opinion on...). Wish me luck.

all kitchen images via my Pinterest Kitchen boards

Had a busy weekend, mostly filled with children's birthday parties and children's sport, so my weekly recap is later than usual. Firstly, I have my first Camellia for the season. Hooray! They are quite late this year due to the unseasonal heat in May, and the generally dry soil from our parched Summer. Love this camellia, it's original to the garden and managed to survive the builders. The flowers look like classic Chanel camellias.

Had my hair cut on Friday, and made the fatal error of telling my hairdresser that I felt suddenly (that morning) like cutting my hair off. He enthusiastically agreed with me. I think there are no greater words to a hairdresser than "I want my long hair all cut off". I have ended up with shoulder length hair. Still getting used to it....

Went out to dinner with Mr AV on Saturday night to Jolley's Boathouse. Haven't been there for years, it's a bit of an Adelaide institution, and they are still packed, and produce excellent meals all these years later. Wore this old Tory Burch number. It's silk and silk lined. Has balloon sleeves and a tie around the waist. Wore black opaques and black patent heels and had a black patent clutch. Mr AV commented when the dress first arrived in the mail from The Outnet a few years ago that it looked "like someone had vomited flowers"on my dress. It seems to have grown on him though, he thought I looked nice on Saturday night. We were celebrating meeting half our lifetime ago. We've been together that long now! 

All the food was good, especially the pork belly asian style entree I had - love pork belly. I had this delicious Passionfruit parfait for dessert. It had a citrus salad with basil which was a lovely combo. Delicious, but my hands paid for it yesterday with an eczema breakout.

Now, lets play a game of spot the difference.
Firstly, here is a black Joseph tuxedo jacket purchased when I lived in London in 1999. I wear it a lot.

Next, here is a black Joseph jacket purchased in the Netaporter sales that arrived this week. Yes, I seem to have purchased the day version of my original jacket. I was trying to be strategic and fill gaps in my wardrobe, rather than just buying appealing and pretty dresses and I need a black jacket/ blazer. Didn't work. It's currently winging its way back home. As the Australian dollar has fallen so spectacularly in the past 2 weeks, I may make money off this mishap.

 On renovation news, they're still plugging away on my roof masterpiece. I'm calling it that because it's taking so long to build, and is very challenging for the builders to work out. They've done some box gutter work, and broke into the existing roof, which sounded quite alarming from inside the house.

They've put in the steels for the ceiling lantern in the living area. That will be like a little hat on top of the roof with windows in it. The ceiling is going to rake up to it.

Finally, I thought I'd leave you with the cheering sight of my laundry set up on the veranda. Covered in dirt, plans and general builders debris. Frankly, it's an improvement on what I've had the past 2.5 years, but it is a bit cold/ wet on some days doing the laundry out there.

 Hope you had a good week xx
I thought I'd take a break on the whole kitchen theme of the past few weeks.... and the drafting which I've been slowly ploughing through today to show you a few of my auction house finds from the past few months.

As I wrote a month or so ago in the blog post Fake or Fortune, I find it hard to resist an Auction House, and every now and again, I get lucky with a few absentee bids that I leave (I'm quite stingy, so generally only leave a low bid, and it's not uncommon to find that I've been outbid on the day by $10 from the floor. Frustrating).

But here are some of the small items that I've been successful with...

This pretty Victorian hand painted box, which came complete with it's perfectly laundered hankerchief contents. Many of the nicest ones (Irish linen, with beautiful lace edging) still were in their cellophane packets being kept, presumably, for a best occasion that never came. A good reminder to use your Good Things. Tucked in amongst them I found a little Christmas tag that said "To Edie, from Edie" in spidery handwriting. Seems like Edie used to self was $40

A blue and white transfer ware jardiniere. I've put my white cyclamen in it, but I'm thinking a hot pink cyclamen might look good too. It has an oriental design of cranes all over the sides, and is nicely aged in appearance, and is reasonably well made. $40

A cast iron Victorian boot scraper. As we are surrounded by mud at the moment, and for the foreseeable future, this was a practical buy. It's now living by the front door $50

This topiary box plant in an aged Italian terracotta pot with underplanting - $80. My retail estimate was that it would be over double that.

And lastly, a dud of sorts. I love a bit of butterfly taxidermy, and was thrilled to be the winning bidder of this old Victorian butterfly dome for $70. Unfortunately upon collection, I discovered that it was all a trickery - the aged base was in fact made of chipboard, and had a "made in Taiwan" sticker underneath it. To add insult to injury, one of the butterflies was missing a wing. I hadn't noticed as I was distracted by desperately trying to control my two errant children from knocking over displays when we went to inspect the auction lots. I now feel very half hearted about this item... a good lesson to really look at what you're thinking of buying!

Have you had any interesting finds lately?
It's been one of those weeks. I've been suffering from extreme tiredness for the past two weeks... I think my body has decided to tell me that I've been running on adrenaline for too long this year after all the organisation of the Ball finally finished and I started to relax. As a consequence I've been going to bed rather early. In fact, very early. A little like being a granny.

Yes, it's fun times at our place.

In other breaking news, pretty much everything about the renovation has got to me this week. I'm sick of the mess inside, the piles of stuff (toys/ paperwork/ items that don't have a home until the back is finished), doing laundry on the veranda (and chatting to passing neighbours about the renovation at the back with laundry baskets full of clothes in my hands), and the thing I'm most sick of is the vermin in the kitchen.

We have an ongoing cockroach problem. It will probably only be eradicated by pulling out all the old cupboards, which we can't do until the new kitchen is built in the extension. This means that I will be living with cockroaches for a while yet. We also have a giant slug problem. This is not a common problem in other people's kitchens I'm guessing, but we have this problem because our current kitchen is over the old cellar. They're coming up from the cellar at night to feast on the contents of the (well sealed) bin. I usually remove one or two a month - they're around 10 cm long. Told you they were giant. Fortunately, now that the cellar is accessible, I'm able to put down snail bait, so their days are numbered. I guess I should count my blessings - the mice appeared to have disappeared now that the back of the house has been demolished (and the old tank stand where I'm pretty sure they were nesting). I realise other people out there have worse kitchens than me, and that they've been living with them for longer than 2.5 years, but I'm just not a fan of wildlife inside my house.

To sooth myself from all these vexing problems, I've been trying to find pleasurable things to distract. I like to admire my growing topiary collection on the side veranda....

I've ordered roses online to be delivered in another month (bare rooted). A mix of pinks and yellows from David Austin (more heritage style ones), and a few climbers to ramble over the extension and help it blend in. I started out banning roses in my garden (I wanted a foliage based garden, rather than a flower based one), but I can't help myself and they've been gradually creeping in. My mother would be pleased, she loved roses. I also did a big clean up of the front garden pruning and taking out all the dead stuff ready for Spring growth. Satisfying. Here are some that I ordered

a new David Austin release for this year, Lady of Shalott via

a vigorous climber to go up my veranda posts on the new back entertaining area, Kiftsgate via

David Austin's Heritage via

I decided that an empty vase at the entry on the hall table was possibly adding to the general feeling of despair when entering the house, so I filled it with sunny yellow tulips.

they were fashionably filling up half the vase, but they keep growing and I've given up trimming the stems

I made a big batch of Barossa Valley Chicken Soup and have had it for lunches and dinners all week. That's my name for it, because I used a Barossa Chook (Saskia Beer's excellent chooks, as I've blogged before they are worth every expensive penny), and added Wiech's noodles at the end, also made in the Barossa Valley. These are the closest thing to home made noodles you'll get. They taste a little like when I make my own pasta, and are so much more filling than normal packet pasta. A small amount goes a long way. And as you can tell by the name, they are made by one of the original German settler families, so are as authentic a European style noodle as you'll find. 

And most crucially, I changed a window in the extension that was bothering me. As we're at frame stage, it's not going to cost a lot to do this, and while Mr AV told me I was crazy to be getting so worked up over it, I knew that if it bothered me now as a hole in the wall, it would definitely bother me with a window and bricks around it, and it'd be much harder to sort out. I didn't want to look at a glaring mistake for the next 20 years. It's unfortunate that with no one else to review the plans (no colleagues/ no client) things can move on from their original intention and other things are not reviewed again. We originally were going to put the pool into the front side garden, so I'd put a large window overlooking it. Now that the pool is going into the back garden (having done away with the tennis court) we were left with a large window that didn't work with the symmetry in the room very well. After fretting over it for 24 hours, I thought of a solution by shuffling a couple of windows around, and instructed the builder. Hooray. Crisis averted, and for almost no money.

Bad window design on the back wall.... looks like a slightly randomly placed opening.

roof trusses are sprouting

So the frame has progressed, with a day lost to weather, and a day lost to a public holiday this week. No windows this week after all, but roof trusses have begun to sprout, and we've been feeling very pleased with the way the house is sitting on the site. It's looking 'right' to us -proportional and settled. Great relief from me, because I might have mentioned before that there is a reason why most Architects do flat roofs these days - it's because pitched roofs are really, really hard to get right if you're going into an existing roof. You don't get taught this stuff at University, and as most construction in Australia is modern in design, you don't necessarily get a lot of experience in it. As a consequence, working out the angles for pitches, adding the new roof into the old, working out how the stormwater system works, and where you get ridges/ hips and valleys made me a little nervous that it was going to look correct. But it does. So that's a relief.

outdoor entertaining area

dining area with wall of glass to give a conservatory feel on the left

the view out of my future (cockroach and giant slug free) kitchen

So far I think the back facade has a nice rhythm and balance to it, so hopefully that will continue... and I won't find too much else to keep me awake at 3am plotting change!

Hope you had a good week 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
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