Well, this past week it was my birthday  - my 40th, which I have to say started to loom a little like how I viewed the Millennium. A bit of an anticlimax. Busy as I was with the final end of year chaos with three different school sections (Preschool/ Junior Primary/ Upper Primary) each with their own Carols/ Picnics/ Speech nights etc to attend my birthday falling in the middle of it was a little bit of an irritation.

I had tried to organise a little party, however disorganisation meant that trying to do that around 6 weeks before the event when it falls so close to Christmas is never going to work - caterers are booked, friends are busy or already away. So in the end I decided to do a small lunch with a few close friends at Jolleys Boathouse on the River Torrens last Friday. I wore my pink floral silk skirt, with a white peplum top. We stuffed ourselves on a three course lunch and Ruinart champagne before all returning to our children and the inevitable round of dinners/ bath/ bed chaos.

enormous mango pavlova for my pudding. I couldn't finish it.

My actual birthday was on Tuesday, and was not particularly exciting. Mr AV has been in Sydney non stop the past few weeks for work, but fortunately managed a dash home that evening to take me out to dinner before flying out again the next day. He had primed up the children in his absence that morning to present me with my present. This was after he had told me about the purchasing experience and had me worrying ever since.

The story went something like this - In consultation we had decided a new watch would be a good idea (my current watch is 22 years old and is definitely looking a little worn). I'd selected a couple of models to look at, and located them in Watches of Switzerland - so he could go and pick one out. Mr AV apparently went to Watches of Switzerland in Sydney last Friday. I have to say that currently Mr AV is in a fairly bad mood - the work he is doing at the moment is not much fun and quite stressful. So he turned up to Watches of Switzerland in between meetings and rang on the doorbell. Inside were two members of staff talking to one another. One of them approached the door and said through the glass "I'm sorry, we don't open until 10am". According to Mr AV it was 9.57am. Mr AV said "But it's almost 10", to which the guy replied "I'm sorry, you'll have to wait". So at that point Mr AV turned on his heel and stomped off down the street where he bought me something else.... Something purchased in anger and without any forethought. He then said he wasn't sure if I would like it. So aside from the fact that Australian businesses need to realise that they lose sales to the Internet because of their lacklustre concept of service, I was slightly worried about what I was going to be presented with.

I need not have worried as Mr AV bought me a beautiful bracelet. So all is good, although if anyone from Watches of Switzerland is reading this, you really need to retrain your sales staff. Someone standing in a suit outside your door ringing the doorbell 3 weeks before Christmas and 3 minutes before you officially open for the day should probably be viewed as a sale and let in.

So enough about my birthday! Aside from that I had hoped to share with your photos of our completed pool and the children splashing around and enjoying it in their school holidays. No such luck. It's still not finished. Never in my wildest dreams when I first started this whole thing in MAY did I think it would be Christmas week and it still wouldn't be finished.

Painful is an understatement. It is slowly filling with water today, and I'm told that tomorrow the filtration system will be turned on...Maybe next week I will be able to show photos of it completed and with water in it. Who knows…

But one thing that has gone smoothly with the pool is the lighting. I know I bang on a lot about the importance of lighting on this blog… but you can see why with the night lighting around the pool and the outdoor entertaining area, it's really very nicely atmospheric. These are the 5 up lighters in the pool area that wash the back wall and a spot on each of the little Ginko trees in the pool enclosure. The pool itself will have 3 lights in it (still to be installed) so will also provide some ambient light, and I'm planning to uplight the enormous tree behind the pool as well. It's a fine line between lighting your home up like it's Christmas 365 days of the year and creating ambience and interest, so I'll wait a bit and decide on the other lighting in the garden after we've had a chance to use it a bit.

To get the feeling of Christmas Holidays underway I took the children into the city last week to have a ride on this carousel that has popped up in Gawler Place. I was a little concerned two weeks ago when I saw a food truck with milk crate style seating outside it in this very location.. which when you looked a little closer was in fact a McDonalds in disguise. They're trying to cash in on the whole hipster food truck thing! But fortunately the McDonalds hipster food truck is gone, and there's now a vintage style carousel, with lions, seahorses, swans, giraffes and horses on it. The kids loved it - that's my 9 year old on the Lion. He was refusing to get on it (as he's now cool you see…), but after I forced him to he couldn't keep his grumpy look for more than one spin around, and was waving at me with a big grin by the second.

I haven't had a chance to get into my garden this past week, but the second flush on Lady of Shallott in my front garden combined with the inky Black Knight salvias is a lovely combination. I have a lot of weeding to do this week. Amazing how it gets away from you so easily...

Along with Gardening, I'm also planning a lot of baking this week. I've already got a copy of this book for myself (Biscuiteers are a UK company I've used in the past to send iced biscuit boxes to friends and family in the UK- the recipe book and guides to making biscuits at home are fabulous), and I have been using it to make a Gingerbread house today with the children. An alert to Adelaide readers, it's on the Dillon's bookstore bargain table at the moment for $9.95 if you're interested. I've already picked up a copy for my sister for Christmas (don't worry, I have got her a few other things too, so I'm not totally stingy).

gratuitous shot of my new iPhone cover - Scalamandre Zebra wallpaper.

This week we have movies, gardening and plays with friends planned. I've spent the past few days in a mad post school rush of Dentist/ Haircuts/ errands, so hopefully this week will be a little more relaxed, and I'll finally get my Christmas cards written and addressed and the thank you cards I've been lax on writing too. Hopefully there'll also be swims in the new pool, although I can't say I'm holding my breath on that one. 

Hope your pre Christmas rush is going well too.
I feel that Christmas has crept up on me this year. Next week my children are finishing School for the long Summer holidays, and I am not ready! So I have spent this week in a mad scramble trying to get Christmassy at home, while also running around to various school break ups, music concerts and Carol evenings.

The red wreath is up on the front door (cricket bat left out as mark of respect for Phil Hughes)

I've purchased a few more Christmas decorations for the dining table - the oversized mercury glass baubles are from One Rundle Trading and the ribbed ones from David Jones.

Christmas baking has commenced with these delicious white choc chip and cranberry biscuits. Here's the recipe if you're interested in making them, they're not overly sweet due to the tartness of the Cranberries, and the Brandy gives them a very Christmassy flavour.

Christmas Biscuits
125 gm butter
1/3 Cup soft brown sugar
1/2 Cup caster sugar
1 Tbsp Brandy
1 egg
1 1/2 Cup Self Raising flour
1 Cup white chocolate chips
1 Cup dried cranberries (Craisins)

Beat sugar and butter together until combined. Add remaining ingredients except for the choc chips and cranberries and mix together until well combined. Mix chocolate chips and Cranberries into the biscuit mixture and spoon single tablespoon full onto a baking sheet making sure you spread them well apart (they spread!). Bake in a preheated 160C/ 320F oven for 10-15 minutes.

I've started wrapping the presents that I have bought - I'm using brown Kraft paper and leftover offcuts of the Cole and Sons "Woods and Pears" wallpaper that was put up in the Children's playroom. Recycling at its finest.

The Christmas tree will be purchased this Saturday - we had a fleeting visit to Melbourne (17 hours) to attend a Dinner last Saturday night so the past weekend was written off for the fresh tree purchasing and decorating.

I broke out my party shoes for the occasion

You know those embarrassing moments as a female where you turn up to a party to find that you're dressed the same as another guest?

Mr AV and his boss in matching red pants and pale blue shirt combos.  What are the odds?

Around the house the pool works continue at a snail like pace. I'm hopeful that it will be filled with water next Tuesday signalling the end to the garden works and the farewelling of the landscapers and pool people. More plants were purchased last week for the garden and arrived last Thursday. This meant that I had to plant 86 plants on Friday when it was 34C. In the end we did a family evening planting session for 4 hours, and got them all in. I can't pretend the children were a lot of help. They were enthusiastic, but I had to go back after we'd convinced them to go to bed and replant the ones they'd helped with as they'd buried the plants in the mulch rather than the actual soil. The plants are all the fluffy filler things - the first round of planting were the trees and shrubs which are establishing nicely now.

Plants included white agapanthus, a tree peony, verbenas, salvias, perennial grasses, star jasmine and oregano (as ground covers), Euphorbia, lavender. I'm striking some sedums from my front garden at the moment, and am also trying to grow some Echium from seed (not overly successful - I have one plant). These will also get added into the back garden once they're strong enough. The end effect will be a lush and full with underlying order from the hedging and topiary balls.

Sadly I've found that 3 of my Japanese box hedge plants have inexplicably died this week in the side garden. They were looking really healthy and bushy, and suddenly turned their toes up. I'm now suspicious that a possum is responsible. Their urine has killed plants in my garden before. As these are not in a row, it's all a little random and odd.

sorting books for the new bookshelves

Inside the house I've received my 4 armchairs for the library/ sitting room. Just imagine there's a round coffee table in the middle there…. The room is really coming together now - a long way to go, but I've definitely broken the back of the organising and sorting that I had to do in here. To clear out this room I've sorted through a 2 drawer black hole- like filing cabinet (I contracted a shredding company who delivered a bin that I filled to be taken away for secure document destruction), sold the filing cabinet once empty, sold the children's train table, sold an armchair, sorted through cases of books, sorted through my work catalogues and samples and rehoused them in the lower cabinets of the new bookcases, painted the bookcases, shelved the books and had a new light fitting hung. It has literally taken me hours and hours. So many random things had found places in here, and there've been a lot of trips to the Charity shop with the car boot full of things, as well as trips out to the bins in the back garden.

I think this is going to become my favourite room in the house. I've ordered two new lamps for the room, and the picture lights that will go in the centre top of each bookshelf, and still have to sort out some cushions. There are more arm chairs needed for the room perimeter, but it's looking pretty good now, so I will likely turn my attention to other parts of the house that need a decorating blitz for the time being (like our main living room, which is half completed).

This year I'm hopeful that the lead up to Christmas will be relatively relaxed. The past 5 years of Christmases have been fairly fraught and busy, and I'm hopeful that I will get to enjoy it this year - and that I might do a bit of Christmas Baking with the children and enjoy spending time with family and friends who are to return home to Adelaide from far flung locations.

Hope your Christmas preparations are in order!
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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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