We've just got back from a weekend at our friend's farm. It's such beautiful countryside around that part of Adelaide (about 1.5 hours away from the city), lots of rolling green hills with a patchwork of paddocks. We spent most of the weekend eating.... and drinking... and having bonfires.

There were a couple of walks to visit the cows and see the Kangaroos hopping by at the end of the property. This is not a serious working farm - it's a hobby farm, but it kept the kids busy zipping around on the Gator and there was one moment of high drama when the sheep got out of the paddock and straggled over the road. Of course the rank amateurs (Mr AV and our friend D) trying to herd them back to their paddock was pretty funny to watch (there is no sheep dog to assist).

 Today we had more friends and their kids join us for a big lunch and a few bottles of wine. The one thing about living in Adelaide is that you pretty much are guaranteed that there will be a friend at a lunch/ dinner who has a connection to the wine industry... which means lots of good wine to try.

Our friends K & D - whose farm we stayed at - used our mutual friend K to do the design (she is an Architect too). It was almost a ruin when it was bought, but K did a superb job in selecting the materials and finishes - very Country Chic. Lots of Mintaro Slate - huge slabs - were used on the veranda, for benchtops in the bathrooms and kitchen and for the flooring in the hallway. The bedrooms all have carpet in the same tones, walls in warm creams and lots of use of the natural stone that the house was built from around 150 years ago. All very simple/ rustic with bleached wood tones to complement and simple white plantation shutters at the windows. They have added Art with a nature theme to it, and the simple light fittings look beautiful (all from Dunlin). It was a very comfortable weekender to stay at (so many times over the years we've stay at friends places which are very shack like, and usually have no window coverings/ never get cleaned/ have beds with strange lumps and sags in them). We had a lovely time.

So, onto the Giveaway! The blog has turned 1, and I have to say a big thank you to all of you who left such thoughtful comments - I really wasn't expecting it, and I found it so interesting to hear of your favourite post, or the posts you enjoy reading.

I received 37 comments (aside from my own!) and Random.org chose comment number 3....

Deborah who wrote
"Hi there! I'm a newer reader, having found your blog via FF and Lovely Jublies. I'm living in Adelaide at the moment, so love it when you mention local bits and of course adore the clothes/fashion.
">(Also, 28th Sept is my birthday ;) - a good day!)

Congratulations Deb - it is indeed your lucky day!! How funny that your number came up - please email me your full name and postal address and I'll send the book and soap out to you  anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com and a Happy Birthday to you - hope you had a lovely day.

So, on to the renovations.... I honestly feel at the moment it is one step forward, two steps back... as some of you read in the comments from Wednesday's post we have launched legal action with the Steel Window company in Melbourne. It's not ideal, but we'll hopefully force a resolution on the matter. So far the windows began their installation around 11 weeks ago. And they're still not complete. It's been quite stressful trying to deal with this particular company.

On Wednesday night we had gusty winds in Adelaide, and when the builders arrived early on Thursday morning, they found that one of the large double glazed units had blown out of the window (as they have still not completed the installation properly - they are all 'temporarily' in place) and smashed on the ground. So it's been a bit of a week of drama on that front.

On other items, I feel that I am constantly having to retrace my footsteps and contact suppliers/ follow things up as almost nothing gets done that you are told will get done. Due to all these problems, I decided a few weeks ago to order the wallpaper (as it could take quite some time to arrive if not in stock in Australia). So of course, the next week all the wallpaper arrived, and is now in our dressing room taking up space as we don't actually have any walls to wallpaper yet. Sigh. Meanwhile, the light fittings ordered several months ago are still on a boat from Italy somewhere.
Oh, and just to torture myself I decided to price up the Italian sofa I wrote about here. I thought I should satisfy my curiosity just on the off chance it was cheaper than the $25,000 I had estimated it would be. Well, I was quite wrong about the price. It wasn't in excess of $25,000. It was in fact way in excess of $25,000 .... try $43,000! Plus leather would be extra if you're interested. So, that knocked that idea over, and I'll most definitely stick with the very reasonably priced Jardan sofa (which Mr AV had been complaining about the cost of. Not any more).

So a trip to the countryside was a good tonic to take our minds temporarily off the rather stressful phase of the building works we're currently in. Hopefully things will be a little better this week... fingers crossed!

Hope you had a good week xx
One of my Grandmother's favourite sayings was

"There's nothing like a new frock to cheer a girl up"

A couple of months ago, you may recall that I wrote on the blog that my Grandmother had died at the age of 93. She was a big part of my childhood, and an influence in all my families lives. She was quite the wit, and quite the tease - Mr AV used to make a beeline to sit and chat with her at family dinners as you could guarantee you'd have fun with her. She was industrious and busy - she was always volunteering her time running her district Red Cross group, making cups of tea for the blood donors in the blood bank, helping at the "old people"'s homes, manning the church fete stalls (which she largely supplied with her home made cakes, biscuits, chutney and sauces, aprons that she'd whip up on her sewing machine or stacks of babies bibs). She was a superior housekeeper - her home was always immaculate, and you'd always find a tin full of a variety of home made biscuits that would be brought out for afternoon tea if you called in. But of all my Grandmother's characteristics, the one thing I can identify strongly with as an inherited trait was her love of clothes.

My Grandmother was always smartly turned out - Winter would see her in a wool tartan skirt, blouse in a bright jewel tone, and a cardigan or jacket in a solid coordinated colour with a brooch pinned somewhere. She never wore black (it was for "Italian Widows"), preferring Navy instead. Her shoes and bags would always match, and were kept polished to a mirror finish. All her clothes were good quality and would be worn for years. While she would buy new items each season, they were just a few quality additions to the overall existing whole. She was a keen bargain hunter... a bargain was what it had cost originally to what it costs now as a percentage. Not what it actually costs you in the end.... She had a small amount of her own money to spend at her discretion through an Army pension (she contracted uncontrollable asthma during her World War 2 service... which was in a secretarial position in Melbourne's Army Headquarters) and this was used to justify many purchases of clothes, shoes and accessories over the years. 

I feel very lucky that I have a couple of items of her clothing that she gave me many years ago. One is a ball gown from the 1950's in the style of Dior's new look. My Grandmother used a local German seamstress to make it for her. The fabric is a dove grey brocade with pink and grey rosebuds scattered all over it. Around the high waist is a wide pink silk sash that finishes in a large double bow with tails on the back. I wore it to a school formal when I was 15... I'm not sure I'd fit into it now (my Grandmother was very thin in her youth due to her ill health). It's so pretty, so decadent and I just love having such a beautiful thing to look at and admire and remember her with.

The other item I have of hers are her 1930's brown leather riding boots. My Grandmother grew up in Mitcham (a suburb of Adelaide) which was semi rural back then. Over the back fence of her house was a paddock, so she had a horse and used to ride. We had the same size feet (and my mother as well, and we were all the same height too) and she gave them to me perhaps 17 years ago. I had them re-heeled, and still wear them from time to time. Quality does last.

So my Grandmother's sayings have been ringing in my ears over the past few months... with a reasonably arduous renovation to manage, a globe trotting husband buried in an avalanche of work, and little children to wrangle I have had a few momentary lapses on the internet and purchased a few items that I could definitely count as pure "cheer me up" type buys. And of course, my Grandmother and Mother taught me to always bargain hunt, which is why if a beautiful dress is 70% off with an additional 30% off... it's  been clicked into my shopping basket before you know it. I'm blaming it on genetics!

Am I alone in this? Surely my grandmother is right - does a new frock cheer you up too?
We've spent the afternoon up the hill at my Dad's place in Stirling eating scones with jam and cream in between allowing the children to run riot in the garden. It was a beautiful, warm day. I wandered around the garden for the first time in a couple of months taking photos.

Jacob's Ladder up to the Japanese Gate 

 the Victorian cast Iron fountain

On the right are the standard roses, under their bridal veils (which keeps the flocks of marauding Cockatoos and parrots from eating the rose buds)

One of the original Italian urns on plinths. There were a lot more in the garden, but they were stolen in the 80's 

 Our old rocking horse, Rigby. He was named by my older sister. No one knows why she called him that (she was 2). He lives on the upstairs landing, and now my children ride him too.

Dad finds it amusing to have a couple of Vintage garden gnomes around the place. You can't take the garden too seriously 

Adelaide sandstone 

In renovation news, I've been nearly driven crazy by the ongoing saga of the steel windows. I may write a post about it all once this is over... Outside the framing of the outdoor dining area continues, and inside Mr AV's office is now plastered up and they've moved into the Living room and are starting on the raked ceiling.

The builders got themselves a new toy to help with the plasterboarding. I'm serious, they've been joyriding on it!

During the week I went to another Outdoors on Parade Cooking Class with a friend. D'Arry's Verandah were the guest restaurant. The wines were naturally enough from D'Arenberg Winery (the restaurant is part of the winery) in the McLaren Vale, about an hour from Adelaide. D'Arry's Verandah have just won a coveted star from Gourmet Traveller, one of only 10 restaurants in Australia to do so.

Coffin Bay Oysters with Apple Sorbet, Wakami and Wasabi Flying Fish Roe

Seared Kangaroo Fillet on Tabouli with Hummus

Poached Noble Riesling Pears with Salted Caramel Sago, Caramelised Yoghurt and Walnut Oat Granola. This was the standout, although it was all absolutely delicious. The wine they'd matched it with, D'Arenberg's The Nostalgia Rare (like a port) was sublime. I'm going to get my hands on a bottle of it when we have our first dinner party in the new reno.  

On Tuesday I endured the trauma that is swimwear shopping in my quest to find a bikini for the upcoming Summer. This is the best time of year to go swimwear shopping - all the sizes are in stock, leave it to actual Summer, and good luck.... I used to sell swimwear many years ago - my first part time job out of school was working for Brian Rochford as a sales assistant.... remember them? They sold excellent swimwear, along with rather dubious lycra bodysuits with enormous shoulder pads in them, stirrup pants and rather skimpy lycra dresses. Sadly, the bottom of the market suddenly fell out for bodysuits a few years later, presumably when women all over Australia realised that when you'd had a bit to drink, and were fiddling with bodysuit studs in the loos late at night, it was a recipe for disaster. Brian Rochford was unable to adapt to the change in the marketplace, eventually closing all the stores.

But it's left me with the ability to hone in on flattering swimwear. I was looking for a bikini as I haven't bought one in 10 years, preferring one pieces as I've had to be on drowning watch whenever I'm poolside - ready to leap into the water at a moment's notice to save one of my three non swimming children. This is not conducive to Bikini wearing, which requires frequent adjustment and decorative lounging to achieve its full effect.

I hit the Bikini jackpot, and bought a couple, including a Kaftan coverup. The fuchsia pink one is from Seafolly, and the print one on the right is from Isola by Megan Gale - I personally think that Australian swimwear is the best designed in the world. The Isola brand is also actually Made in Australia too! Not China!

Later that evening, while scrolling through my iPhone photos to send a couple of the kids to Mr AV (who has been in New York for the week), I found that the 3 year old had taken a photograph of my bikini clad bottom in close up whilst in the change room with me. I had wondered what I looked like from the back.

It was not good....

As a result, I have redoubled my efforts at the gym, and have been 4 times this week, along with going back on the old elimination diet I was on at the start of the year. Fab.

Finally, I've been reading Bringing Home the Birkin, which will put you off ever wanting one of these handbags (well, it did for me). Quite a fascinating look at the Hermes world - who buys it, what they like, the shops in Europe and a man that made a living for 5 years or so buying and re-selling scarves, bags and Hermes trinkets on eBay and to a private client list.

 Don't forget to enter my giveaway if you haven't already!

Have a great week xx
One thing I seem to have a lot of discussion with family and friends and the occasional client about are Sofas. I thought it might be helpful to others to write down my thoughts and advice that I regularly give out on the subject. Mr AV and I are currently in the midst of organising our sofa. And I'm happy to report that after a lot of discussion about modular vs sofa and armchairs, and overall style of sofa (high/low back, cushions etc etc) we've made a decision.... It came about because I was looking at the expensive Italian furniture manufacturers websites for inspiration (companies like B&B Italia, Poliform etc), and found exactly the look that I think will work well in our space - quite modern, which will play well off the old stone fireplace, the steel windows and the rustic dining table.

The problem is, that Italian furniture companies do not supply cheap sofas. I suspect this one above would retail for well over $25,000. I haven't actually checked, as really... what's the point?! So I decided to use this as inspiration for our sofa. Part of the problem that I've had with a modular is that I didn't want a giant U or L shape in the room which can look quite 'blocky'. I also like having side tables and consoles to provide places to put down a glass or have a lamp. This one is laid out with some open parts avoiding the block in, and I particularly liked the clever tables that go over different parts of the seat to break it up and provide somewhere to put a drink down.

So, I've had a bit of a hunt around, and we've selected the "Empire" from Jardan, which I'm putting together in a non standard way. Here it is below - it's fairly simple/ classic. Now, this is not a cheap sofa either, but it's not going to be in the Italian scale of expenditure, so we're ok with that.

I do think a sofa is the one piece of furniture, aside from your mattress, that is worth sinking a big portion of your budget into. A more expensive sofa should last you for years and years, and be much more comfortable during this time. My favourite manufacturers of high quality sofas locally in Australia are Jardan, Moran and King furniture (I also use two other manufacturers that are to the Trade only for custom work). Jardan and Moran are available through David Jone's and Myer department stores, and Jardan also has stand alone stores in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. I particularly like Jardan for a modern style of sofa, and the one and only sofa we have in our house came from there 13 years ago and has had a hard, hard life. At the time (Mr AV and I were 25) it was a huge expenditure, and most of our friends were buying far cheaper sofas from Freedom Furniture etc. But it was most definitely worth the money - very comfortable, and still looks good style-wise all these years later. Many of my friends got rid of their sofas after 5 years, bought new ones, and then have recently done the same again (finally investing in good quality ones). Our sofa is our only seating option, and has been for the entire time that we've had it, and has consequently had a lot of use. It's not quite ready for the scrap heap just yet either.

Jardan's Leila sofa

So some of my tips - when choosing your fabric, really consider the amount of use your sofa will have. I would recommend that if your sofa is going to get a high amount of use in your main living area you should choose a commercial quality fabric. These should have a rub test (martindale rate), and the higher the number the better it is. A high rub test rate will mean that your sofa will not come apart at the seams, will not pill, fray or have any pile wear off and should look a lot better in the long run after years of use. Of course leather is the most durable, unless you have a cat...

I'd also suggest that in considering your sofa, you also weigh up a few factors, such as how you'll use it. If it's your only seating space in your house, and you'll have guests using it then buying a big extra deep squishy sofa is not going to be a good choice. Most people won't lounge when they visit your home, they'll sit more upright. Balancing upright on a squishy and deep sofa is difficult. If it's just for you and you have other seating areas for guests, then by all means buy what you like. Interestingly, most men tend to want a sofa with a high back on it, and most women want something lower (going more for the aesthetics). Most men also seem to be attracted to very overstuffed leather sofas - they give the illusion of comfort (because you can most definitely find comfortable sofas without having to resort to puffy marshmallow style ones).

puffy marshmallow suite. Please don't buy one.

If it is not in your budget to buy a new sofa, I would recommend that you look on Gumtree or in your local Auction House (the ones that deal in estates, bric a brac and the lower end of the antique market, not Christies or Sotherby). Look for the sofa that was someone's pride and joy in their formal living room and that has a reasonably classic shape - ignore the fabric.  This sofa would not have had much use at all, it will still be in pristine condition with the springs and foam intact. Now, upholstering a sofa is reasonably expensive (around the $800 - 1000 mark for a 2.5 seater plus fabric on top of that). Our labour costs in Australia are high, so the reason why you'd upholster a sofa over buying a brand new one is because you like the shape and it can't be easily replicated. If you don't like the fabric on your new estate sofa, then I would look at doing a custom slipcover. Again, this is not cheap in Australia... it will cost almost as much as reupholstering, so instead I've used the Slipcover Shop in the US in the past, where a heavy duty cotton custom cover with separate seat and back cushions will cost around $350 - 450 and just require you to do a fair bit of measuring. Check online for coupons as well. As you can often pick up the sofas at Auction for around the $200 mark, this is very cost effective. I actually had a bid in last weekend on a three piece lounge suite with a fantastic shape... but I lost out by $10!! It was going to go in our soon to be empty Study and be reupholstered... so the hunt continues.

The third, and final option is IKEA. I'm not a huge fan of Ikea, as it's really disposable furniture/ stuff for future landfill in my opinion, and not the most comfortable. But it does have its place (and I do have Ikea bookshelves in my house for instance - I'm not completely anti Ikea). I don't love the sofas as I don't think they are as comfortable in the long term. But if you do buy one, and want to improve the look I've come across a couple of great sites for customising your Ikea sofa - Slipcovers here from Bemz with some great fabric choices (picture is above) and different leg profiles here at Prettypegs.

So... our 13 year old sofa from Jardan is not looking the best. Around 5 years ago I had slipcovers made up in white, which really has eeked it out a little longer looking fairly respectable. I do think that while my original fabric choice (domestic quality upholstery fabric in light beige) was not necessarily the smartest (although, as we were 25 and unmarried when I ordered the sofa, Children were a long way from our thoughts at the time) the sofa has stood the test of time - it's still very comfortable, and has survived children jumping on it, having its cushions turned into spaceships and cubby houses, and numerous spilt cups of tea/ coffee/ wine (hence the slipcovers...).

On to a new chapter in our home, with new sofas that accommodate more than 3 people - how grown up for us! The old one is going to end up in the children's playroom, where it will likely finish its days.

This is not a sponsored post
Well, hello! It's been a fairly quiet week around here again. I've been busy on the renovations and just the usual dull household routine of laundry, school run, homework, cooking and endless tidying up. I did go out a couple of times to lunch and dinner, but forgot to take photos. I'm not the best at blogging I guess!

So this week on the renovations, we've had the Electricians back for most of the week, and also the framers who are starting to frame up the outside dining area. Here's how it's looking above and below. There are louvers going between the two framed up beams (where you can see a gap).

Mr AV's underground home office is also taking shape - it's been wired up, and is currently lined with silverbacked foam insulation. It'll be plasterboarded up tomorrow.

That's the light well... but it's covered over above ground at the moment to stop anyone falling in.

the stairs up to the living area past the cellar

I've been out and about in the Trade showrooms looking for a fabric for the sofas to go in the new living area. Here's a picture of the winning fabric. It's on the right and is from Waverley (the flooring is underneath it). My criteria for selection was that it had to have a very high rub rating - commercial quality. I used a domestic upholstery fabric on our 14 year old sofa, and it looks terrible as it was our only sofa, and got a lot of use. Especially once the children came along. I looked at a couple of others from Mokum, which are on the left, but the colour of the Waverley one is much better - the others are too brown. Still have to agree to an actual style of sofa with Mr AV though, and we have to get our skates on as the Christmas cutoffs are looming.

I whipped up a batch of Madeleines this week. I use Maitai's recipe, which is excellent. It's a good after school snack, as it takes only 10 minutes in the oven, and has to sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking, so I mixed it up before I left to collect the kids and put them in the oven when we returned home and they ate hot Madeleines within 15 minutes.

In good news, the rose I pronounced dead last week appears to have recovered and is sending out a shoot. Hooray!

It's miles behind the other Golden Celebrations though - you can see why I thought it was dead.

So it's a brief post from me this week, but I'm finishing off with a Giveaway. Yay! We're approaching the blog's first birthday, and this is a bit of a bittersweet time for me. I thought I'd do a giveaway to thank all of you who read and those of you who follow the blog on the sidebar or through Bloglovin, and especially those of you who leave such lovely comments on my posts. The blog is approaching 172,000 pageviews, and I've had 3025 comments (half of which are mine though!). The most viewed post is one I wrote about Kitchen Design, and the one that received the most comments was the one on Shoes or Bag?  I never realised that through blogging I'd 'meet' such interesting people. It's been a really positive thing in a difficult year for me. So, I hope you enjoy reading my slightly random posts, and to thank you here is my giveaway...

A copy of one of my favourite books "Flair" by Joe Nye with the beautiful Isis Ceramics plate on the cover. All about setting a beautiful table and entertaining in style. So lovely, and so many lovely ideas. You all know how I feel about using your Good Things, so hopefully this will inspire the winner too.

And I'm also putting in a bar of the lovely Mor Cyclamen & Tuberose triple milled soap that I stocked up on recently for hostess gifts. It smells divine, and is so prettily packaged.

So, to be in the running, just leave me a comment on this post. I'd love to hear which posts you enjoy the most (I'm curious!). I'll draw a comment number using Random org on the Blog's birthday which is the 28th September. And you don't have to be a follower to be in the running, and I'll post anywhere in the world.

Have a great 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 anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
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