So, as I was saying, we went to Kangaroo Island last week. If you've been a long time blog reader, you would have read about our family holiday there last year, at about the same time. We love Kangaroo Island. It's very unspoilt, has stunning beaches, diverse landscapes and lots of things to do, and is just a very relaxed place to be in general.

For those of my overseas readers wondering where and what Kangaroo Island is, it's about an hour and a half drive from Adelaide and then a 45 minute ferry ride, in the centre bottom of Australia. The island itself is reasonably large - it takes around 2 hours to drive from one side to the other, and it has only one major arterial road through it that is sealed - the rest are dirt roads.

Southern Cape Lodge... one day I will get there! 

I would love to say that this year we stayed at Southern Cape Lodge, pictured above, but alas, as it was a family holiday (or as Housewife in Heels wittily calls them - a working holiday) we were instead in a beach house we'd rented at Island Beach, on the North side of the island.

We spent a lot of time on the beach directly outside our beach house. The kids worked away at digging a large random hole over the course of the week... and would intersperse it with swimming, while Mr AV and I supervised from our beach chairs. It's a very safe beach, so is great for small kids.

As you can see, you don't have a huge problem with running into other people - we had the beach to ourselves on many days.

There was a fair bit of beach cricket

And this year, Mr AV decided that we would hire a speed boat for a day in order that we optimise the fishing. Kangaroo Island is well known for its fishing. Last year we fished off a jetty and unsurprisingly come away empty handed. This year, we were successful! Or rather, 5 year old E was, catching our only fish, a King George Whiting within the first 5 minutes of the trip. And that was it. So, that night we enjoyed our tiny $400 fish fillets (the cost of hiring the boat, buying the kids life jackets, buying bait and some extra fishing equipment. But Mr AV was insistent that it was a Life Experience, so worth the exorbitant expense.....).

We went to Stokes Bay for a day - the secret entrance through the rocks from the unpromising rocky bay is very Famous Five like, with the surprise of the beautiful beach with giant rock pool at the end. The tiny and simple cafe attached to the caravan park puts out very gourmet fare too (and has a good wine list) .

 With slightly older children this year, we were able to do a few more things that weren't possible last year, like climb up Prospect Hill, which gives a great view over the interior of Kangaroo Island and the ocean around it. It was climbed by the explorer Matthew Flinders in 1802 who was surprised to see that the island was not as big as he'd thought while mapping the North coast of it.

We stocked up on the local produce - Kangaroo Island is developing an international reputation for pure food - the Honey is particularly renowned, so we bought a bit of Honey after doing some Honey tasting (all flavoured from different native plants that the bees collect from) and some cases of wine (there are a few wineries on the island, along with cheese manufacturers, lavender farms, and other small produce manufacturers).

I read Barracuda during the week. I have to say, I didn't enjoy it. It was frustratingly angsty, and really the story about someone that goes through life with a massive chip on their shoulder having caused their own self destruction and failure. There was a lot of thinly veiled digs at a boys school that was clearly supposed to be Scotch College in Melbourne (the book is set in Melbourne, just as his last book The Slap was), and it had a strong sub plot about class (the working class moving to the middle classes), which was thoroughly over explored. Throw in some unnecessarily graphic gay sex, and it made for a reasonably disappointing read.

But I did like using the doggie book mark that the delightful Naomi who writes the CouldaShouldaWoulda blog sent me in her last giveaway. Thank you N, I love it!

 We returned home to see a little progress on the renovation front. In our absence, the hallway floorboards were repolished. This was because they'd installed the boards into the new powder room.

I've also received delivery of the Schumacher wallpaper. It's not pre trimmed, so the wallpaper guy will have to do that, but it's so beautiful in person. I can't wait to see it up on the walls.

Schumacher's Hothouse Flowers grasscloth, part of the Celerie Kemble range

I've also finally got my hands on the brass taps that are going in this room. I have to say I was a little nervous about them as I decided on the same style that I used in the other bathrooms, and they have a more 1920's aesthetic to them... which is suited to chrome rather than brass (the other bathrooms have chrome). But with the grey wallpaper, I had wanted brass. Plus I'm planning to use an Antique mirror above the hand basin, which will be gilded, so brass would work better. But, I'm happy with how they look. So shiny (they will dull down)

Outside, the electricians installed the wall lights.

Here's a shot during the day - they're quite a discreet dark grey colour.

The slate is being laid, but it's a slow job due to the size of the pavers and the cutting they've had to do.

And finally, our fence has gone up between our neighbour and us - I'm sure they're very relieved. They've been very patient throughout the whole building process, and certainly I never thought the fence would be down for nearly 10 months.

 So that's been the past week and a bit, and the end of the Summer Holidays. This week school resumes, so we're back to old routines and I have a busy day tomorrow getting organised for the return to school on Wednesday. My youngest is also starting Kindergarten (pre school) and will be spending 3 days a week there, so big changes are afoot for us all (he is very excited).

Hope you had a good week too
Last night, my post on Australia Day generated an outraged anonymous comment that I was "racist" and "ignorant" because I wrote that "Australia was settled by the English". I printed and responded to the comment so that there could be no confusion about this (just in case someone else thought the same thing). Mainly, what had me puzzled about that comment was that Australia was in fact settled by the English - it is even written in Mabo for goodness sake (a major High Court finding on Aboriginal rights - here is a link to it in which it states the same in exactly the same language I used). Just in order that I not offend anyone I went back and inserted the word "modern" into the sentence. But perhaps Anonymous might like to take it up with the High Court of Australia if they feel so strongly about this matter.....

But putting that aside, I felt I would address the wider issue of some of the anonymous and rude comments I have received lately. Some I have printed, and then regretted printing as I like to keep the blog a happy place. Others I have responded to, and others I have deleted. It seems that blogging and rude comments go hand in hand. This is not a blog that makes me money, I write it because I enjoy writing, I enjoy the interaction in the comments with readers, and I like sharing my professional knowledge about Architecture and Interiors. I have had all sorts of accusations levelled at me - that I am a bad mother because I don't write positively about my children (which is odd, because I try hard not to write about them at all to protect their privacy), that I am designer labelled obsessed because I have mentioned a wallpaper brand (which is entirely laughable to me. If I mention a paint colour brand name does that make me designer label obsessed too?), that I should stop spending money on my home and clothing and give my money to Charity instead (because clearly I don't give my time or money to charity if I haven't written about it), to accusations of receiving money for writing about boutique Australian clothing brands even after writing that they are not sponsored posts (also hilarious as this is a blog with small readership).

So, to the person/ people who are writing these comments, I would suggest the following. If you have something to say, phrase it in a polite manner and I will print it and respond to it. If you write an abrupt, rude or accusatory comment directed toward me, the post I have written or at another commenter I will not be printing it. I would ask that you give me some latitude if you feel that I have been incorrect in something I have written. I am fine with criticism, and will correct something or take a valid opposing view point if it is written politely - I enjoy a bit of a debate and like hearing other people's point of view. But there is no room for rudeness in the way that you write things. So, apologies to those readers who have been upset with the comments that I have allowed to be posted up till now, and from now on those who write rude comments will not be seeing a response.

I've turned comments off on this post.

Happy Australia Day!

Apologies for my silence on the blog front - we've been on Kangaroo Island for the past week, which I'll write more about after I've uploaded a few photos.

I was thinking the other day about how I identify myself as Australian. This was because of the book I was reading on holiday (Barracuda) which has that as a bit of a sub theme. I think for me, I only realised how Australian I was when I went away.

The year I spent in London showed me in fairly sharp relief how different we were from the Brits. As modern Australia was settled by the English, and I myself have a fairly dull (non interesting migrant or even interesting convict) background of English forebears, I had thought given that as I'd grown up watching "The Magic Roundabout", "The Goodies" and "Doctor Who" on tv that there wasn't a lot of difference between us.

Isn't it nice they were all given OBE's in 2011?

The first hint I found of this assumption being completely incorrect occured at Heathrow when I had to queue up with the Rest of the World in immigration, despite having the Queen as our head of state. But more to the point after 4 months in London listening to steady stream of sugary pop on high repeat on the radio stations, I realised that aside from all the sayings we use that are particularly Australian (tell someone they've got "Buckley's chance", or that something was a bit of a "Furphy", or that you were "fossicking" for something, and be prepared for the blank looks in response), our music is also poles apart (just for a start).

After doing a bit of travel, I decided that despite the speed at which music moves around the world, every country has its own unique sound. One night, while out in London with some of my school friends from home, we went to a pub one of them chose somewhere in Soho. I was busy chatting and didn't pay a lot of attention to where we were. After a while, I became aware that the pub was playing great music - every song was fantastic. Then I heard this,

looked up above the bar and saw - Oh, the Horror- I was in an ex pat bar, and really enjoying it. The walls were festooned with Australian, New Zealand and South African flags and memorabilia. Far from assimilating so seamlessly with the native population, I'd clearly been craving home all along.

So, Happy Australia Day to all the Aussies out there reading, and hope you're all enjoying a lamington, BBQ or Pavlova in honour of our National Day
So in exciting developments this week, the builders have been dribbling back to work. Unfortunately with the heat we have in Adelaide this week (Monday 42C, Tuesday 45C, Today 44C, Tomorrow 46C. Shoot me now, it's like living in an oven), we've only had a handful of hardy trades - the tiler has started at 5am so that he can knock off when the heat really gets going (although it was 37C at 8.30am yesterday). But fortunately the wallpaper guy has returned, and has wallpapered Mr AV's home office, the kids playroom and the laundry (in air conditioned comfort). Hooray! 

It looks so good. Honestly, wallpaper is the easiest way to dress up a room. It's kind of like less expensive art for your walls. The sliding door above to the laundry is going to be wallpapered as well, so it will disappear and be a Jib door.

Here's the kids playroom, with the Coles & Sons "Woods and Pears" wallpaper. It has gold foil pears on the bare birch branches, which looks fab. One wall, as you will remember, has been painted in blackboard paint. The kids are very excited as they think it looks like "Where the Wild Things Are".
The gold pears echo the brass kitchen handles, which links nicely when glimpsed from the living area, as you can see below.
Excuse the mess, I snapped these just as he was packing up today. It all needs a big clean and tidy up.

In the laundry, the Nina Campbell Farfalla wallpaper is up. We just need the mirror splashback and the other washing machine installed and I can call this room finished. 

Having a laundry feels like a massive luxury to me, as I've always had a laundry cupboard in the past. So all this cupboard space, bench space and then the wallpaper, and I'm very, very happy. It may even cause me to break out the ironing board in celebration (probably not actually).

I've been doing a lot of cooking in the past week, as you'd expect now that I finally have a decent kitchen. I whipped up these recipes from my "Ottolenghi" cookbook (it's excellent) - Saffron Hazelnut Honey glazed Chicken. Absolutely delicious and easy. I did a standard style salad with it. 

We've had a couple of friends around for viewings of the new extension. Now that word has got around that we are living in the back, we have a lot of curious friends who have not been around for a long time. Mostly this is because small children and a building site are not a good combination so we haven't invited people for a long time. And it's still fairly dangerous from that point of view (lots of nails, bits of sharp things outside, but at least they've removed the scaffolding). I made a batch of the Ottolenghi parmesan cheese biscuits to go with drinks - very easy to do in the thermomix. They are very moreish, and it's handy to keep a roll of the dough in the freezer to make them up fresh when you have people dropping by. 

I also threw some Fig branches into the new Bison vase that my sister bought me for Christmas to cheer things up a bit. I'm loath to buy flower in the heat, as they don't last long. And I have nothing in my garden as it's all been fried.

As it's School Holidays, Mr AV and I decided to book a night out without kids. We went out last Tuesday to a newish place - Street ADL on Rundle Street in the city. It's the hipster younger sister to the more grown up Orana restaurant upstairs. Orana is winning lots of raves at the moment for its use of native Australian food - friends of ours were there recently and saw Heston Blumenthal dining there. I'll get there soon, hopefully, although my friend did mention that I would find the lack of tablecloths confronting. 

Back to Street ADL though. I wore my new Tory Burch sale jacket. It fits, and I love all the embellished detail on it. So that was my first Sale purchase for the season after the shoes with toe cleavage went back to Netaporter.

 It's in the old Universal Wine Bar spot. Good for people watching. There's an excellent wine list - I started off with a glass of Ruinart blanc de blanc Champagne. From there, things went slightly down hill. Firstly, there is no table service. This is very annoying when you have to go and queue up at a bar where hipster 20 year olds with beards are too busy chatting to serve you. Then you have to go back and order food, dessert, another glass of wine...with the prices of the items they're serving, there's no excuse to not have table service in my opinion. The greeting people spent most of the evening standing around as it wasn't busy.

If you're a vegetarian, or just like salad or a vegetable somewhere on your plate, then I hope you enjoy green beans, as that is the only thing to order on the menu. Aside from that there are burgers, pulled meat sandwiches, BBQ and meat things galore. All very tasty, but not overly sophisticated in the presentation department. If you think it's bad to be served your food on chipped Op Shop (thrift store) 1970's earthernware plates as it's "hip" in some venues, then you may find it confronting that you are served your meal in cardboard boxes. Apparently when it first opened you also got disposable cutlery, but there was such an outcry they've now succumbed to stainless steel, which is in a communal help yourself style can in the centre of the (also communal) tables. I couldn't stop laughing at the ridiculous "take home" boxes (there is no takeaway offered, everyone dines in).

I appreciate the concept, as it is a bar rather than a proper sit down restaurant, but this is not a cheap place. The pulled Kangaroo Sandwich pictured above cost $22. All up, our meal was $120 (wine etc extra, no dessert), and  while the food is excellent (for what it is - I'm not a huge burger or pulled meat sandwich fan), there's absolutely no service (or annoying service if you have to wait for the bar guys to finish chatting with their friends to serve you). I think my conclusion is that it's a good place to go for lunch. Or after a concert or something. Don't go for dinner unless you want to be annoyed. Mr AV spent most of our time there muttering darkly about Gen Y... 

 Kangaroo Island Marron

But it's always good to try somewhere new?!

Hope you've had a good week, and stay out of the heat Adelaide and Melbourne people. Fingers crossed we don't get any major bushfires...
Are you drawn to things that verge on the twee or the tacky? I sometimes ponder this question when I am drawn to something that is perhaps of questionable taste.

An example of this is much of what Kate Spade offers. Some of it is kind of fun, some of it is kind of... kitsch. For a long time I was coveting one of the Kate Spade book clutches, specifically the "I Married Adventure" one. This is a cult Interior Design accessory book (who knows if the actual book is any good - Interior Designers were buying original copies for the dust jacket, with its on trend zebra print to put into pretty vignettes).


I'm also a fan of blue with black, so when Kate Spade put out a version of the book, but as an evening clutch, I really, really wanted it. But something held me back. I worried that an ironic expression of me, being both a bookworm, plus lover of Interior Design, would not translate, and instead the clutch was in the twee category.  It would end up being something that people would look at me carrying into a restaurant and wonder why I'd brought a book to read. I just couldn't make up my mind whether it was in actual fact verging on the tacky. That, plus the $328 US price point just made me hold off enough that I've never bought it.

Now, the book- as -clutch has gone another step further - Olympia Le-Tan has a range of embroidered book clutches. They don't really actually look anything like real books, so I'm not sure what to make of them. But they've got that certain homespun/ crafty aesthetic that is all the rage at the moment, and makes me feel a little bit like it's verging on fashion victim territory.

This one has my name all over it via

I can see a lot of people in the future wondering what on earth possessed them to purchase a fake book that was hand embroidered, and pay $1,836 AUS for the privilege. No, that is not a typo. The one below costs more, it's $2,108 AUS

It was probably the wild success that Lulu Guiness had with her inventive bags that prompted the whole book-as-clutch movement.Way back in the 90's Lulu put out a bucket of flowers that was actually a bag, and it's enormous cult success led her to branch out into other forms.

So that now with Lulu, you can carry a shop around.

Or a tea table.

And no, these are not cheap either. Which begs the question - If something costs a lot, does that somehow imbue it with a level of taste that it doesn't have?

I like a bit of an in joke as much as anyone else, but there are numerous things you come across in fashion that make you hesitate. Some of that includes some shoes and bags from Charlotte Olympia. On the whole I love her ranges, but sometimes I wonder if they're verging on the twee.

I'm all for making an effort at Christmas, but carrying around a pudding may be an ironic bridge too far.

Love your poodles? Never be a step away from them.

But maybe it just depends on who's wearing this stuff, and how they're worn. I'm not really a "fun" dresser, so probably none of this stuff would work with me.

But getting back to old Kate Spade. Since the change of ownership there have been a few changes in general. They've always been fond of the in joke at Kate Spade, but sometimes I think that perhaps they're verging into the territory of the bridal tracksuit with "Mrs" embroidered on the back of the jacket (for those not initiated, it is quite the thing in the US to have a special tracksuit made for when you're having your hair and makeup done on the day of the wedding before donning your gown).

So some of Kate Spades questionable items are things like these earrings that are bride and groom.

The things you can sell in the name of a Wedding. But to give them credit, their current range is fun and tasteful, and much of the frankly odd and quirky pieces they've had in previous seasons were relegated to their recent online sale, and are no doubt coming soon to an outlet store near you at 90% off.

So back to the question of whether if it costs a lot, it imbues it with good taste. Even the King of tastemakers can put a few feet over the questionable line. Old King Karl himself has done all sorts of "quirky" things in the name of Chanel.

There was the Russian inspired range of 2009, which garnered rave reviews

Karl got all the fashionistas carrying around a Matryoshka doll that you could remove the head of to put your lipstick, keys and credit card inside. Plus you could match it with the bulbous heel shape reminiscent of the traditional onion domes of an Orthodox cathedral.

via The Coveture

To ensure his wealthy Japanese and Indian customers didn't feel left out, he followed up with a Kokeshi doll and Indian inspired doll

Or this, from the China collection a few years back. No, it is not a fake.

So Ironic, Twee or just plain Tacky?
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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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