It's extremely hot here. After our  chilly big 40th party a few weeks ago, the weather has (naturally) warmed up to the oven-like temperatures that we usually experience in an Adelaide Summer. This weekend we've spent it either in the cool of the house, trapped by the air-conditioning… or in the pool. It's been 40C both days.

Mr AV and I went out to dinner together to From Orient in the city. I wore this navy Tory Burch shift dress, which has a sparkly neckline so negating any further accessorises. Easy dressing. Food was delicious, service was lacking.

I've spent the rest of the weekend doing all sorts of odd jobs. I've finally got around to writing out the 22 thank you cards that I owe for all the presents we were given by our friends for our 40th party. I don't mind writing a thank you card or two occasionally, but it always makes me realise how little handwriting we now do. When writing things en masse like this I find my hand cramps up, and there are the frequent spelling mistakes that occur when there's no auto spell check (I am terrible at spelling, much to my late Mother's chagrin. She was a High School English Teacher once upon a time). There were a few things that were nice about this task - I love using nice stationery, I had some very nice Open Garden Australia stamps, and I always feel a great sense of satisfaction when I've finished and I get to stamp our address on the back of all the envelopes. This is one of my favourite things - the address stamp. I ordered it when we moved into the house from an etsy seller, and it saves a lot of time when I've got a few letters or cards to send out. The stamps make for a good housewarming present too.

This also lead to me deciding to clean all my silver, as I was staring at a tarnished pen pot during most of the writing. Now the Christening mug/ pen pot is all sparkly, plus the toast/ letter rack, letter opener and my tea strainer and various pieces of cutlery and salt and pepper pots. I was also prompted to clean the silver by the fact that I went to Costco on Friday morning and bought a 6KG bag of Baking Soda. So handy for all my cleaning jobs! I like to put a mixture of vinegar and bicarb down the drains every few weeks to keep them clear, as well as using it for other cleaning tasks and baking and as a result I get through the small boxes available at the supermarket fairly quickly.


The trip to Costco caused a few other things, like cleaning out the pantry. This was because I'd shoved all those bulk buy boxes of bits and pieces in it before rushing out to do other jobs, and it was a terrible mess.


 the drawers weren't too bad though. It was mainly the shelves

I do love a trip to Costco, and I was very excited when they finally opened in Adelaide last year as I used to go all the time in Melbourne. The problem with our Melbourne house was that there was very limited storage, as it was so small… so I had to be careful not to overbuy. But now with a bigger house, and lots of cupboards and a cellar to store things in and a growing family it's perfect.

My favourite things to buy are the books (perfect for kid's birthday party presents), the bunches of 24 long stemmed roses (as above in the photo on my hall table), the gift wrap ribbon (latest purchases were ombre pink and an ombre green wire edged 50m in a roll), the discounted movie tickets, the incredibly cheap petrol, and the fresh produce which is very fresh, very good quality and about 1/4 the price of my local supermarket.

I've caught up on my design magazine reading. I have to say the best thing about the latest Architectural Digest was the ads. I will be cancelling my subscription. The English House and Garden never disappoints, and Veranda is also reliably good though.

Around the garden things are frying. Some plants do very well in the heat though. Like the thistles. I have a lot of weeding to do once the weather cools down enough to get out in there.... But my side garden is thriving. Do you remember what it looked like when it was planted back in September last year?

Here it is now.

The trees are probably more than double the size they were, and the hedges are looking really lush and healthy. They're actually noticeable now, rather than when we first planted them and they were barely visible. I have to get out and paint the white pipe too - it's for the solar heating for the pool, and is a bit of an eyesore. Eventually the rose will grow up it and conceal it.

first planted


I have olives growing in the olive trees in here.

And figs growing on the new fig tree in the back garden. Excitingly the parrots have not yet discovered them, so I haven't had to net the tree and we've been picking them and enjoying them in a baby spinach salad with blue cheese, toasted pine nuts and balsamic and olive oil dressing. So yummy.

The upside of the heat has been the (very) balmy evenings. Last night in the evening after the two youngest children were in bed, Mr AV, our oldest and I played a few rounds of Petanque on the new court. The adults played with a glass of chilled Rose in hand.. it was very pleasant to be out in the garden on such a warm evening. We need quite a few more plants in this area (it's largely unplanted aside from the hedges and trees), but things are growing, and it's all looking good.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

The other day I was making idle chit chat with the Supermarket Checkout Chick, when I noticed that her name badge said she was called Chanel.

This got me thinking a little about how common the Chanel branding has become. Back in the olden days as a Vogue Obsessed 15 year old (1989) I saved up my babysitting money and clothing allowance for 10 months and bought a Chanel belt. It's very 80's and I still have it (pictured above), but I now wear it only occasionally. It has quite a large buckle, and the Chanel logo has become so ubiquitous that I tend to feel the belt wears me. Back when I bought it Chanel was not quite such a household name with a logo recognised the world over.

I was also struck by this when I attended the "Fashion Icons" exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia late last year. Faux Fuchsia, Pamela, Romy and I examined each and every piece of couture on display and discussed them in minute detail, and one thing I found quite interesting was that the buttons on the Coco Chanel designed early 1960's tweed suit were logo-less.

The buttons on the late 80's Chanel suit had the intertwined CC logos (the same vintage as my belt). The Chanel logo, along with other Chanel icons such as the Camellia motif, tweedy wool, quilted leather and the leather woven chain have been cleverly manipulated by Karl Lagerfield each season to put such a brand on the House of Chanel that these things are forever associated with it.

Every time I click around on Pinterest, I am reminded of what a hold the name and brand of Chanel has on the general public now. There's the Chanel Cocktail for instance which popped up in my news feed last week (and who knows if she ever drank this particular mix… it was invented by Harpers Bazaar it seems, and has a Chanel No 5 infused spearmint sprig attached to it).

There are the endless quotes (Audrey Hepburn is a close second in this category). As an aside, I have often felt like making up something inane myself, writing Coco Chanel under it and watching it catch on like wildfire on Pinterest as an interesting social experiment.

There are pages of faux Chanel merchandise


Oil barrels as bedside tables (or are they supposed to be perfume vats?)

Highly unattractive bedding

And then there are the parties - Chanel themed Baby Showers, Birthday Parties, Weddings, Engagement Parties, Wedding Showers… from Cakes, to Decor to printed cocktail napkins.

Coco Chanel's key tenants were of simplicity of form, understated luxury, borrowing from menswear and sports wear with fabrics and style, an ease of dressing in an elegant way, the understated detail and I have to say…

 it all seem like it's gone a very long way away from this.

All images bar the belt ones via Pinterest

I haven't done a proper house update in a long time. I think this is because while I'm constantly (slowly) working away on it, I tend to jump from room to room as I find things that suit. So while I might have added one or two things to a room, I don't tend to update on what that is. Most rooms aren't really that finished, but I'm trying to get a few ticked off in the first part of this year.

Firstly, the Library/ Sitting room, which came to a screaming halt over the Christmas period. Frankly, I had to work so hard at clearing out all the junk and going through all the paperwork (plus all the painting etc) prior to Christmas, that I wasn't terribly motivated to do a lot for the past month and a bit. But I'm getting back on track with it. First up I have to antique the brass grill panels for the base cupboards of the bookshelves (I have strategically left the bookshelves out of these photos as they haven't changed from the last lot of photos I posted, and consequently are not looking very styled/ finished). I also have to put on the cupboard pulls, which came months ago, but have been sitting in a box ever since. 

In terms of progress on the accessorising of the room, I've purchased a coffee table! Hooray for that. It came a few weeks ago and was from West Elm. I know, cheap! In my Good Room! But it works perfectly. Others I'd found that were round and not too rustic looking were horrifically expensive, so I'm happy with this piece. It was $300 and has a foxed (distressed) mirror top, and antiqued brass frame. It fits in really well to the room. Here's my top tip with decorating - just like with clothes you can mix in the high and the low, but you have to do it carefully. Lighting is always worth putting money into. So are cushions, and these are the things that bring a room to life. Side tables and coffee tables can be cheap and you won't notice if you choose carefully. And I say this regardless of what your budget is - good lighting is worth the money. And if you mix in antiques with anything cheaper, it instantly elevates it.

The Chandelier in here twinkles and sparkles, and looks lovely reflected in the mirror of the coffee table. I'm also planning on getting a huge, oversized antique French mirror for above the fireplace. Unfortunately the sunburst mirror looks disproportionate with the bookshelves, so something taller is needed. But I'll wait for the right thing to appear….

I've also been hunting on and off for a fabric for the cushions. The current two that you can see that match on the armchairs are Celerie Kemble Betwixt for Schumacher, and I love them, but they worked better with the casual living room arrangement we had before the house extension was finished. I need something more polished for this room. So I've been looking in all the showrooms, and finally found something at Dedar that will work perfectly (strangely enough, I always thought I'd find it at Dedar). It's got sort of circles on it and has a lot of shine and is a very luxe looking fabric, so I think it will work well against the cream armchairs. Here's a bad photo of it above. It's not so grey as it looks here, more brown tones.

I've also got a bunch of lights coming on a slow boat from the US, and two lamps will be going in here. One is this Bracelet lamp from Circa lighting. It will go on the Georgian drinks table where there is currently some greenery in these photos. I think it will echo the curtains quite nicely. The bookshelf down lights are part of this shipment, so I probably won't post photos until they arrive and are installed properly.

So, into another room I haven't shown at all since the initial posts about the renovation… Mr AV's study (home office as it was formerly known). For newer blog readers, we excavated under the house to create a new home office for my Husband. We had an existing stone cellar, and had to replace the stairs going down to that, so we dug out another room at the time to create a quiet place for him to work away from the family. We did a light well, and lined it in mirror with trellis over it to bounce a bit more natural light around. It doesn't feel too horribly cave like down there as a result, and most males that come over to the house seem to like hanging out in there… during our 40th party there were a few groups that went down to have a look and didn't reappear for an awfully long time!

Late last year I finally got around to ordering the sofa, up until then Mr AV had his 1920's burr walnut desk and that was it. The sofa is Jardan's "Leila" which has a slightly rounded back profile, and I liked the relaxed cushions as they gave a good contrast with the desk. I bought the standard lamp from Linge Roset in the floor stock sale. It has a chrome base and black shade and also has a slightly Deco moderne overtone to it. In the light well, we finally hauled one of the topiaries down into position. It's not looking the healthiest (I had forgotten to water it consistently in the past few months when it was up above ground), so hopefully it recovers now that it is getting a bit more TLC. The pebbles at the base of the light well allow the water to drain down to the sump pump (which will pump rainwater up to the storm water), and stops mosquitos getting in to breed in any residual water down there. The things you do with underground spaces...

Still a bit of work on the accessorising department down here, but it's coming along! I won't bother with cushions as Mr AV has a deep seated hatred of scatter cushions and treats them with disdain and contempt by throwing them on the floor or using them to balance drinks on (the horror!). So while it pains me slightly not to have any, they'd be a waste and get ruined. I'll pick my battles with our Sitting room and bedroom cushions!

So, a couple of little additions that have made quite a difference. And more to come….
Hello! It's been busy around here. My children went back to school last week after the long Summer holidays, which necessitated a panicky few days of Uniform purchasing (after they'd outgrown key pieces during their holiday), lunchbox locating, and the attempt to get back into a routine in the morning.

Additionally, last weekend Mr AV and I hosted a small party for our joint 40th Birthdays. Mr AV had his 40th birthday a couple of weeks ago, while we were away on holiday. I'm happy he can no longer refer to me as a "cougar" which he seemed to find very funny as he'd talk about our "decade of age difference" quite a bit (we are 5 weeks apart in age), which I did not find amusing, at all. We had 43 friends to dinner on Saturday night, so that's kept me busy for the past few weeks as I tried to tie up loose ends and make sure that the basics were covered (food/ drink/ music) and the details were somewhat refined. And just in case you were wondering.. no I did not do the cooking! We hired in a caterer, as I wanted to have an enjoyable night too.

We held the party outdoors, with a long table down the centre of our lawn. You are almost guaranteed to have weather in the high 30C range at the end of January in Adelaide, but this year's Summer has been incredibly cool. I realise that a maximum temperature of 24C is positively balmy to an English person, but here in Adelaide it feels a little chilly…. unfortunately that was what we were facing, so a quick hire of some outdoor heaters helped, and I put out a big wicker laundry basket of my pashminas and rugs so that anyone feeling cold could help themselves. As you can see from these photos taken 5 minutes before the guests arrived we had gloomy grey skies as well. In my head I themed it "English Garden Party" as it really reminded me of an English summers day....

The table setting matched the invitation, which I'd had printed up by Paperless post (they do print invitations as well as e- invitations) here. The paper quality is excellent - nice and thick, and the stripe continues over the back of the invitation as well. Here's a screenshot of their example card

The table had a black tablecloth with a black and white striped runner made out of, what else, but Wallpaper! Porter's Classic Black and White stripe. My Dad pruned one of his Vibernum hedges for me, so I scattered some of the greenery down the table, and with the hired LED candles (so they wouldn't blow out) as the only lighting for the evening, plus some gold lacquer chargers, it came together nicely.

By far one of the best features of the table was the beautiful Menu/ place cards that the very creative Laura from Neoreverie did for me. She hand calligraphied each guests name on the top of the menu she designed in gold ink, and I secured them to the napkins with a strip of black satin ribbon (to stop them blowing away). They looked amazing!

 I wore a dress I already had in my wardrobe (Mr AV was completely shocked I hadn't bought anything new, but I'm sticking to my No More Party Dress rule), it was my blue and white silk Collette Dinnigan maxi dress last worn to a ball. With my hair down, it looked more casual. I wore it with the bracelet that Mr AV gave to me for my 40th birthday and drop earrings I already had that match. Mr AV decided to match me, and also dressed in blue.

It was such a fun night! It was a sort of unofficial house warming party - up until the past month we really haven't had very many people over. A lot of our friends still hadn't been over to see the finished renovation, and it's been the entire 4 years that we've lived in Adelaide now that we've not been able to host a large crowd, so it was great to finally enjoy the house to its fullest.

After dark the table looked amazing all lit up by the candles. Mr AV's best mate gave a very funny speech accompanied by rather embarrassing childhood photos of us both and we booted the last guests out at around 4am after a bit of dancing (with a few that had to stay the night in the Kid's beds - they were having a sleepover at their grandparent's).

So that was it - hopefully this will kick off the next decade of time spent with family and friends and enjoying the home we've worked to hard to create the past few years.

Apologies for the lack of replies to your comments on the last few posts, unfortunately it got away from me. I'll go back and reply now, as well as make my way around my favourite blogs to see what you've all been up to. Hope you had a great weekend!

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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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