Christmas Tree

It's up!

Let's ignore the red bucket so prominently on display at the base. I'll do a cover up later in the week - we don't own a tree skirt.

It's over 2.5 meters tall. Mr AV let our 7 year old choose the tree. He chose the biggest he could see at the lot.

Decorating is always a little fraught. I used to think that it would be so lovely to do that with the children when they were old enough back when they were babies. Maybe when they're older again it will be, but at the moment I have to break up the fighting over ornaments, try to keep them all from climbing up the step ladder at once, and my 2 year old, S. has a new word in his vocabulary- Delicate. So far nothing smashed.

The tree guy tells you to put 2 asprin in the water to keep the tree from dropping its needles. Seems 'tis the season for the asprin - certainly I had a headache after supervising the decoration!

Modern sofa chair designs.

Modern sofa chair designs.

Ikea's Ornaments

Ikea kindly invited me to shop their Holiday collection to see if I could find any items that I could have fun with. Always up for a challenge I popped into Ikea a few weeks ago and I instantly fell for the JULMYS red breasted birds ($8.99 for 4) as they reminded me of my Mom. Mom has a love for birds during the holidays, and finds the cutest ways to incorporate them into her decorating. .
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Sponsored Post / Reallite candles

Like the candles on my console table? Want to know something? They are fake! Shut the front door. Read more about the candles, plus a video bomb moment from Oscar after the jump. (It's a long post with a long intro, which is why I do the "read more" links)
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Beautiful chairs designs.

Beautiful chairs designs.

Table Settings & Christmas Entertaining

With Christmas entertaining approaching, and a definite change in the weather (from mild to Very Hot) in Adelaide (which always signals Christmas to me), I have been thinking about the Christmas table setting as I am in charge of it this year (Christmas will be at my Dad's place in Stirling, and will be fairly traditional as always).

Glamour Drops blog posted quite a funny post on her disdain of the "traditional"Christmas ornamentation that goes on in Australia. Despite temperatures reaching 40C, our shops are full of fake snow, icicles, snowmen and other decorations more suited to a Northern Hemisphere Christmas. I had a little search on the net for more appropriate Christmas decorating inspiration, and here are some that I think are ideal "themes" for a beautiful Australian style Christmas table.

I've also included invitations from Paperless Post, so if you're doing a drinks party for friends, and would normally send out an email, these are a great way to send out something a little more special, with not a lot of effort.

Firstly, the Neutral/ Natural Christmas - white/ burlap/ pinecones/ branches/ greenery/ candles. This can either be quite formal or a casual look depending on your china and cutlery and whether you set it indoors or out. If you don't have fir or pinecones (which we have in ample supply in Stirling), then English Box balls or mini topiaries also look fabulous.

via Paperless Post

via Paperless Post

Seaside themed Christmas - whites/ blues/ washed out timbers with natural elements such as seashells/ coral/ driftwood. I love these shell trees, and the sea urchin one too

via paperless post

Colourful Christmas - there is a lot of fluoro colour around this year, I've even seen plastic neon trees, and if you have an all white interior, this is a great way to make a statement with your decorating.  Black and Spiro always do beautiful Christmas windows full of colour and life, with not a snowman to be seen (their tree from a few years back is down lower), and this beautiful hot pink/ orange and turquoise table setting (I think it might be by Eddie Ross?) would be fab for Christmas day

via Absolutely Beautiful Things blog

Via Paperless Post

I think I'll be embracing the setting and going with the more natural theme, there are ample fir boughs (in fact we cut down a tree from the garden each year for the Christmas tree) and pinecones and holly, and the more English style of house that my Dad lives in suits a slightly more traditional style.

What's your Christmas look going to be?


Last night I hosted a two hour wine and cheese shopping night for girlfriends in my neighbourhood. It was a last minute event that came to be when I realized I had left over stock from my gift show. Sometimes you need an excuse to throw a party - so I thought it would be a nice opportunity for Moms in the area to meet other Moms as sometimes it is terribly hard to make those connections. Although many people knew each other already I was really happy to see new faces and see connections and friendships being made. The shopping part of the evening was low key - but I thought it was an integral part of the event as it made it a common denominator for people. You could come, browse, and then chat. It gave the event a little bit of a focus.

Aubrey prepared all the food and an hour before the event and took Oscar out for a boys night so I could have the house to myself. I hired my brother to take jackets, serve wine, and do sales should anyone like to purchase anything. It was awesome hiring help as it meant I could mix and mingle and not worry whether my guests were being taken care of. I think this will be an annual tradition. :)

Style Peacemaker

To mediate is to broker agreement and here we see a kitchen becoming a style peacemaker.  The industrial architecture sets the contemporary scene aptly aided by the exposed ventilation system which has been laid bare through the calculating incisions made by an architect’s drafting pen. 
Light is allowed to penetrate and contradict the industrial space through more classically styled windows, casting shadows that have been polluted by the traditional influence of Georgian frames.
The kitchens detachment from the floor is aesthetically powerful but it also shows how we have become scientific in our approach to functional furniture design.  We have learned that it is difficult to reach things at floor level while standing up straight! 
The introduction of layers, shapes and warm light helps to soften the surroundings without confusing the picture.  It can be argued that the kitchen designer has been sensitive to the architecture while providing a reminder that people occupy this space.  Although linear and contemporary in its design this kitchen creates a versatile and animated buffer between the opposing architectural styles.
The introduction of personal items, conversation and culinary aromas can help transform a desolate architectural space into a place we can call home.
The influence of kitchen design is only beginning to be explored!

kraft + bells + greenery

Gift wrap inspiration - Grab Kraft paper from the business supply store, white string (found anywhere) some bells and of course, some greenery - and voila!. A pretty awesome wrapping job. This is a little scene from my dining room - I'm hosting a wine and shopping night for girlfriends so it looks like a gift show in my dining room right now. More pictures to come in a bit. xo Linds

This week - Movies, Pimm's and Lamps

First up, a gratuitous rose shot. This one is the "Mary" rose from David Austin. It's part of the Mother in Law Christmas gift we are giving, and that I wrote about last week. So pretty.

David Austin's "Mary" rose

It's been quite hot this week, so I've had a couple of Summer dresses out for a wearing. This is a Milly dress in blue and white makes me think of blue and white china. I wore it Friday to see Skyfall and have dinner with some old School friends on a balmy night down at The Parade, Norwood. One of my friends picked me up and complimented me on the dress, which I told her I'd actually worn all day - she laughed her head off and told me I was like some sort of 1950's housewife. Possibly, but a dress is in fact quite a lazy way to dress - no need to think about separates, just zip up and go. A bit like my old School Uniform summer dress really.

Skyfall was excellent. I give it 5/5. It's quite different from the usual Bonds, very clever, not so cliched, not so much focus on the womanising and gadgets. Mr AV was green with envy that I was going without him. He was trying to gatecrash the girls dinner/ movie night. As he was on babysitting duty (although you don't actually babysit your own children, I like to point out to him) he'll be going some other time.

This dress I wore earlier in the week. It's a Lily Pulitzer shift that I've had for maybe 4 or 5 years. It's very retro 60's and I love the bright yellow. This one is a heavy linen/ cotton so I can wash it in the machine (essential for my life full of vegemite finger prints), and has other extras, like bra strap keepers (more dresses need these), is fully lined and has concealed pockets.

My children were beside themselves with excitement when their special video message from Santa (or Father Christmas as he is called in South Australia, it's a regional thing I gather) arrived in my email inbox. If you haven't tried the Portable North Pole tv, do. It's so fun - you enter some basic information on the child ( what they want for Christmas, their name, upload a photo etc) and they get a personalised message with an emailed link to it where Santa calls them by name, has a photo of them in his book, shows them around the North Pole and they see the (real) Reindeer. You can upgrade and pay for more premium options, but the free version is fantastic, so I don't feel a need to. My only word of warning is that if you choose that they are not "nice" ie "naughty" or "naughty- nice" they do get really ticked off by Santa. I did this the first year I tried it as my oldest was carrying on a lot at bedtime and driving me up the wall. Well, he was absolutely terrified that Santa was not going to deliver to him that year - behaviour improved, but he still talks about it... traumatised for life, apparently.

I bought this fairly ugly standard lamp for my daughter E's bedroom. I got it through for $70. I'm planning on painting it white and putting a new shade on. It will go next to the armchair that I recently had reupholstered for her. When I arrived to pick it up, the lady selling it told me that she had paid.....wait for it......$1500 originally. I'm not joking. I nearly fell over - I was actually thinking I'd overpaid by $10 or so. She is moving to Queensland, and didn't want to pay to move it with them. The shade is made of silk and hand pleated with expensive cord detail, the base is made of solid mahogany and also handmade. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was about to be painted and the over the top enormous shade ditched. I had assumed when I bought it that it was stained pine, and a relic from someone's "good room" in the 80's, a prime item for a redo. My Father was horrified when I told him I was painting it (he is of the opinion that "good" wood should not be painted), but it does have a very reddish and new finish to it. Now I'm in two minds - it will definitely be improved with a new shade, but should I keep it wood? We do have a lot of dark wood pieces in our house (and her bedroom has a cedar wardrobe and chest of drawers) Opinions please!

And with the hot weather, the Cricket test on at the Adelaide Oval, and small, sick people who have been driving me up the wall, a few glasses of Pimm's have been consumed this week. Oh look, this example for the photo it isn't as full of fruit as it's supposed to be (I was too eager to drink it to do much more than put some lemon and cucumber in it), but it was still delicious, and a good way to end the evening. Last night I was sitting on the low walls around the tennis court with Mr AV, drinking this, and watching the children play in the sprinkler at twilight. They ran out their evening sillies, and didn't require a bath. Bonus.

Hope you've all had a good week. xx

Secret doors

I don't think there is anyone on this earth that isn't intrigued by a secret door. So many movies have someone disappearing through a bookcase, or a fireplace swinging round to reveal a hidden chamber. The book "The Secret Garden" is built around the premise of a secret door that leads into a forgotten garden. That in itself makes it so much more intriguing that just a run down garden through an open and obvious gate.


Traditionally, a secret door was employed for a few reasons: in a grand house it was to keep the servant areas concealed with direct access to the back stairs (Jeeves would just materialise in the room with a tray of G&T's). Often it was used defensively, to conceal an escape route out of a house/ castle, and more often it was used to conceal access from one bedroom to another, so that you could spend time with your Mistress discreetly.

Today, a jib door (their proper name) is used as a device by Designers to stop a room feeling like a thoroughfare, which it can easily become if multiple doorways are obtrusively positioned. Ways to create a jib door are by either by using fake book spines to create a library type feel, or by incorporating it into panelling or wallpaper, thus losing the edges of the door.

In our extension, I'm going to employ a jib door that opens to the stairs down to the cellar and Mr AV's office. To say that he is excited about the concept is an understatement. Isn't it every man's fantasy to feel just a little like James Bond? When I casually mentioned that it might be an interesting design device, he was all for it. I think he's looking forward to seeing the look on his friends faces when he opens the bookcase and takes them down to his cave. The door is from the kitchen area of the extension, and the long wall that will run along the stairs will potentially have three bookcases, one of which will be the door. Alternatively, we may end up doing a panelled look, with the door concealed in the panelling. I do quite like the idea of a library along one wall of the open plan kitchen though (it's an area that is far from the cooking/ prepping). And even better, a company I found in the UK will do a selection of books (including 5 titles that we can make up as we like - think of the possibilities!) that are beautifully leather bound will give a lovely feel and depth to the room, even if they are fake.

The English are the Kings of this - you can buy book spines by the meter to fill up empty bookcases, and there are several that offer the doors as panels of books. You can also buy book spines that conceal lever arch files, or CD's. It's the ultimate in subterfuge. 

You do need to use special hinges and catches to open the door - obvious hinges will make it stand out as a door, and defeat the purpose. So will a standard door knob or pull. The jib door doesn't have to be Ye Olde Worlde in feel, either. Some of the modern examples are lovely, with simplified shelving and a much more modern aesthetic. So this is a slightly quirky addition to our renovation plans - and not a particularly expensive addition either. It's design devices like these that can add a lot of interest without much additional cost.