Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat

I've had a somewhat manic week but just wanted to quickly post on a few things I've been up to.  It's been week three of me doing boot camp and I have to say I feel a lot better for having committed to regular exercise two mornings a week.  I've always thought boot camp was a bit too 'yang' for me but I've surprised myself - I'm actually really enjoying the boxing.  Who would have thought hey?  And I have also had one session at the Rosanna Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre where I got to experience cupping and acupuncture for the first time.  Despite my background, I've never actually seen a Chinese medicine practitioner.  I've also started on the Chinese herbs to build up my immunity and energy levels and I have to admit, I have actually felt the difference.  I'm not sure whether it's psychosomatic but the sceptic in me has been surprised.  I'll see how the rest of my ongoing treatment goes for my various ailments and will keep you posted.  At any rate, it's been nice to put my own health first for a change.
Image via Albert Street Food & Wine
I've also had a chance to get out and about this week for a few business and other lunches.  It's a little ironic that I find myself in Brunswick every week or so visiting my client Avant Card when I used to live a hop, skip and a jump away from their warehouse office (it's still my dream to walk to work although I can't really complain working from home at the moment).  Managing Director Pat Mackle is soon to celebrate a milestone birthday so took all the Melbourne office staff out for lunch at Phillipa Sibley's Albert St Food & Wine which, not surprisingly, was excellent.  Phillipa has also just released a new cook book New Classics so Pat was the proud recipient of a personally signed copy.
Image via Booktopia
Image via Self Preservation
Meanwhile, today I've been down the Paris end of Bourke Street near Pellegrini's and American Tailors and there's a whole heap of new cafes down that end of town.  Mr Rosanna and I had a quick bite to eat at Self Preservation cafe (love the name) which was busy - filling up with men in suits and other business people plus the usual quota of hipsters and arty types.  I also stopped in at the Hill of Content Bookshop as I've started buying Christmas presents.  Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday night fun

It's been a chilly old week in Melbourne - hard to believe there's been raging bushfires in NSW as we shivered down here.  I am looking forward to some warmer weather.  If you feel like rugging up tonight, there is Movies in the Mall in Bell Street, Heidelberg West where tonight's movie is The Muppet Movie at 6.30pm - BYO blanket or deck chair as there is limited seating for this free event.  Retro games, 50s swing dancing and a mobile animal farm and face painting are all on offer from 6 pm.  More at or phone 9490 4222 - let's hope the rain holds!
Image via Banyule Youth Services website
The Coburg and Monty Farmers Markets are also both on tomorrow if you're wanting to get your groceries locally while if vintage fashion is more your thing, then the last Take 2 Market at Northcote Town Hall is being held on Sunday and one of the best places to grab an outfit for Melbourne Cup.

Finally the Panton Hill On the Hill Festival is also being held on Sunday and will be glorious if the sun does come out.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Of light

I went to the opening of 'Of light: reflections on colour' exhibition to celebrate the 2013 Banyule Award for Works on Paper last night at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe which was opened by my colleague and fellow public art committee member Artistic Director Dr Vincent Alessi from LUMA - La Trobe University Museum of Art and Councillor Jenny Mulholland.
Image via Banyule Council website
It's a beautiful, colourful and interesting exhibition of finalists' work and the calibre this year is really outstanding.  The winner, Tai Snaith, was announced by the Banyule Mayor Councillor Wayne Phillips for her work featuring the humble old polaroid camera.  There are a number of high profile artists on show including Eolo Paul Bottaro, Ellie Malin and local Ivanhoe artist Wayne Viney amongst them.
Banyule Award winner - 'Fistful of Wishes' 2013 by Tai Snaith
Gouache, watercolour and ink on paper 105cm x 75cm
It must have been the day to highlight art in the area as The Heidelberg Art School Foundation breakfast with Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC and art historian Dr Gerard Vaughan was held in the morning at The Old England Hotel in Heidelberg.  The owner, Tom Payne, also heads up the foundation as part of his involvement with Rotary and has been pushing for a gallery celebrating The Heidelberg School of artists for some years now.  It looks like the proposed Impressionist Lab may become something more of a reality given the article in The Age online from yesterday and in fact, it is something I hope to see happen in my lifetime.  I was watching Edmund Capon on ABC's The Art of Australia who also spoke about The Heidelberg School in the first of the three part series on Tuesday night and it's hard to fathom that there is currently no gallery in what is considered to be the birthplace of Australian art.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Having a rest

I don't often make social commentary on this blog given its focus is more arts and culture in the north-east but it's been interesting reading The Age today about David Jones CEO Paul Zahra stepping down from his role after 3 1/2 extremely intense years after taking over from Mark McInnes and citing his main reason as being 'tired' - one that I take at face value having made a similar decision over 10 years ago to leave my role as PR for David Jones in Victoria.  Retail, like hospitality, can be an unforgiving industry especially given you're on call during the evening and across weekends often working for not a huge amount of money unless you're at a very senior or head office level.  And while I loved the calibre of some of the brands and designers I worked for, I can't say I miss the days of putting on huge events at the Bourke Street store - I definitely think it is a younger person's game these days.
Image via David Jones website
Many politicians and business people often cite family and/or health reasons for stepping down from public life but I have to say I've found it refreshing, particularly from a male leader, to hear Zahra say that he's simply tired and just wants to have a rest and take some time out to travel with his partner.  We only have one life to lead and I applaud him for making the decision to walk away on his own terms.
David Jones book image via Helen O'Neill website

Friday, October 18, 2013

Inside and Out

Being such a huge fan of Art Deco, I need to mention that it's the opening weekend of the 'Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion' exhibition at the NGV - National Gallery of Victoria - and really, it's a marriage made in heaven for me with both art and fashion showing until 2 March 2014.  Steichen's photographs of the most glamorous fashion from the 1920s and 30s taken for Vanity Fair and Vogue will be on show and I can't wait to go and see it.
Image via NGV website
Also on this weekend is the Practically Green Festival: Eco building and lifestyle which is a free family event held from 10am - 4.30pm at Edendale Community Environment Farm in Gastons Road Eltham.
As part of this event, the Nillumbik Mudbrick Association is also running the Eltham Mudbrick Tour leaving from Montsalvat this Sunday showcasing five mudbrick buildings including the former home of environmental architect and builder Alistair Knox.

Finally, Open Cellars of Nillumbik is also on this weekend with 13 different different boutique wineries involved.  If the weekend is as beautiful as today, then it will make for a picture perfect driving tour.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A woman in business

I attended the 5th annual Banyule Women in Business lunch event today along with my friends Rina Chia from Take 2 Markets, interior designer Renae Barrass and fine art photographer Leanne Cole (who incidentally has taken my profile photograph for this very blog) as well as 250 other women.  I also ran into a couple of other local business women friends who I didn't know were attending.  It was great!  I think the calibre of speaker in Net-a-porter Co-founder Megan Quinn also had a lot to do with such a fantastic event.  She was extremely impressive and a consummate presenter - personal, funny, articulate, smart, a great conversationalist and obviously very talented.  While I have no doubt that luck and timing are success factors for many people like her in business, it also takes a certain type of person to be a global star like Megan and she's Australian to boot!
Megan Quinn at The Centre Ivanhoe along with two  of her 250 fans
What was interesting to me was that she left the company after 4 1/2 years working as the Creative Director and Head of HR amongst other things and is now in Melbourne working on a number of different boards and in philanthropy and still involved in fashion but at the other end of the spectrum consulting to retailers like Katie's and Millers as well as Plus sized fashion (an often overlooked customer segment) for larger women.  My best friend Jules is a fashion buyer for Kmart and high volume brands can often be just as challenging to sell as luxury ones.  I look forward to hearing what Megan does next and was thrilled to have a chat to her (we had to queue - it was all very rock star) at the end of the event about who she was wearing (Prada) and what she is up to now before her agent whisked her away.  She was lovely and is about to launch a business blog so stay tuned.

Speaking of Banyule, the 'Of light: Reflections on Colour' public program for the 2013 Banyule Award for Works on Paper opens tomorrow and runs until 14 December.  There's a free Lantern Workshop for Kids, an En Plein Air (location) workshop with Ted Dansey and a watercolour and drawing workshop with Artist in residence Simon MacEwan.  There are also two other free events - Curator's Talk with Claire Watson and a forum with participating artist Tai Smith, scientist and broadcaster Dr Andi Horwath and colour forecaster Genty Marshall.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Even while the earth sleeps we travel

One of my all time favourite artists - biro artist Jessica Page - is about to show at The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham. 'Even while the earth sleeps we travel' opens tomorrow and runs until Sunday 10 November and is her second solo show this time using ink and brush.  Her first show 'I must confess I love that which caresses me' was a sell out although you can still buy limited edition prints from the gallery.  I think her artwork appeals to my sense of the absurd, it is a little bit different and the underlying theme in her art is human emotion and its ambiguity.
Fox and Hare by Jessica Page
"A fish walks through a desert with a glass of water in search of a better life, a man struggles to walk under the weight of his ox in a feat that is both heroic and ridiculous and an octopus gently and lovingly guides her shipwrecked sailor to safety...these drawings depict a journey that has been embarked on out of desire, curiosity and necessity; it is a journey that has no known end.  The characters take with them what they cannot live without, the things with which they are inextricably linked," says Page of this exhibition.
Regrowth St Andrews by Ian Steele
Hurstbridge artist Ian Steele also opens tomorrow and runs until 10 November at The Light Factory Gallery.  'Nature and light' includes Steele's paintings of the Victorian landscape as well as his beautiful, figurative paintings of nudes and still life.

Opening drinks with the artists are being held on Sunday from 2 - 4 pm.  For more information visit - entry is free.

Nb. Miss Rosanna is The Light Factory Gallery's freelance PR consultant.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Local knowledge

Given I've upped the exercise in an effort to get myself more fit and healthy, I've also had to go and buy some new runners.  I ended up buying a new pair of full price Asics Gel 2000 at The Athlete's Foot in Ivanhoe where we luckily also managed to pick up discounted Asics sneakers for the boys in the bargain box out the front on the right hand side as you walk through the door.  If you are an Asics shoe person, the best place to go is Leo Russell's Sports Store - an old style sports store at 24 Gilbert Road, Preston West, which is an a cute pocket of Preston near the corner of Miller Street and Gilbert Road.  If you go, it is cash only - I picked up some Gel Kayano 19's for Mr Rosanna for $195 when they usually retail for $250 - and they only stock Asics.  The man behind the counter told me the store's been running for 85 years!  Quite a feat in this day and changing age of retail.

Next to Leo Russell's Sports Store is the Love Hate retail outlet which sells homewares, clothing, hosiery and accessories - open from Wednesday - Saturday only.  Sadly closed today when I was there but they stock some gorgeous things - I have one of their necklaces which Mr Rosanna bought me for Mother's Day this year from the Heide store and you can also buy from their online store.  Dangerous stuff!
Me taking a quick & dirty shot today - Love Hate store
On a sadder note, the Italian deli 'A Slice of Europe' on Station Street in Rosanna closed a few months ago.  The strip has never had a lot of foot traffic and we were only semi-regulars but it is a loss for the suburb and its diversity.  Before they closed, I got the cards of a couple of other delis the owners recommended - Olympus Delicatessen at 72 Jackson Court in East Doncaster and Slavonija Deli C234 Preston Market, Murray Road in Preston.  I'm also lucky enough to have slow food cafe & grocery store Bien closer to me in Greville Road which has had some recent great write ups in The Age and The Weekly Review.

Finally, fashion blogger Lady Melbourne has also posted on The Estelle Store in Ivanhoe today so it's nice to see more local places being included in blogs that generally only centre around the inner city.  There is life in the 'burbs people!  Lots on this week - more tomorrow.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Local Profile - Abigail Comber

After finding out that Rosanna children's store owner Abigail Comber has 6 children, I don't think I will ever complain again about having two of my own.  Hats off to her just for that feat alone!  I have even more respect for Abigail taking on a bricks and mortar shop in this digital age.  Lilla & me has replaced the old Sparkle T toy shop on Beetham Parade in Rosanna (just before the veterinarian and my fave cafe Miss Marie).  She also used to live in Rosanna so knows the area well.  I stopped in to buy some presents over the school holiday break (some gorgeous silicon teacup cupcake moulds, a pink tin container and vintage fabric-inspired bangle for one of Thomas' female school friends) and the time is now to start stocking up for Christmas!  Read on for more about Abigail.
Abigail & Rebekah - owners of Lilla & me
Name: Abigail Comber
Occupation: Owner of Lilla & me and blessed mother of 6 beautiful children
Works: Rosanna
How long have you worked here?: One month
Describe yourself/what you do:
I own and run a unique children's store in Rosanna, with my sister Rebekah who I am very excited to announce has joined me in this new and exciting venture.  We spend a lot of time researching and selecting our products in the hope that they will bring joy and satisfaction to our precious little customers.
My children are more than happy to help in the selection process, which makes our unique family business fun and we believe their input is invaluable.  We have everything from toys, Australian made clothing, decor, collectibles and much more.

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
I love Rosanna as it was my first home when I moved here from New Zealand. Rosanna is a wonderful community and a very family orientated area.  You are never too far away from anything and there is always a friendly face where ever you go.

For more information:
Lilla & me
51a Beetham Parade
Rosanna VIC 3084
Ph: 0431153 723
Facebook: (check for opening hours)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Meet and greet

There are a number of events on over the next few weeks which may interest those of you in the world of art or business (or both like me!).  Registrations were actually closing COB today for the Banyule Women in Business Lunch 2013 being held next Thursday 17 October from 11.30am - 2.15 pm and featuring a keynote presentation (Customer Relationship Management in the Digital Age) from Megan Quinn, a Co-founder of online luxury fashion retailer Net-A-Porter.  There's a two course lunch in the Great Hall at The Centre Ivanhoe for $49 including soft drink and the presentation.  Bookings online at or phone 9457 9816 - numbers were at 180 people when I last checked!  You'll see me there if you're going.

Megan Quinn image via
The Old England Hotel in association with The Heidelberg Art School Foundation is also holding a special breakfast event on Heidelberg's Artistic Heritage on Wednesday 23 October from 7 - 9 am with Guest Speakers including Prof. Geoffrey Blainey AC and Dr Gerard Vaughan.  Cost is $25pp including hot breakfast.  Bookings 9459 1166 and full details at  The OE as we call it is also holding a number of special events from 18 October - 3 November so it's worth having a look at their website.
Image via
The Biennial Banyule Award for Works on Paper exhibition of finalists is also being held on Wednesday 23 June from 6 - 8 pm at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe. Titled 'of light - reflections on colour' the exhibition will be opened by Dr Vincent Alessi, Artistic Director, LUMA La Trobe University Museum of Art and Councillor Jenny Mulholland with the winner announced by Banyule Mayor, Councillor Wayne Phillips.  I love this year's theme.
Image via
I'll be back tomorrow with a local profile.  See you then!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Spring has truly sprung and I am still adjusting to the start of the new school term and daylight savings.  There are quite a few events on this weekend if you feel like getting out and about in the sunshine.  There are two farmers markets on this coming Saturday - the first at the Collingwood Children's Farm in St Helier's St Abbotsford (plastic bag-free so BYO bags) and the second is the Coburg Farmers Market at Coburg North Primary School.  Both are being held from 8 am - 1 pm.
Image via Heritage Fruits Society
If design is more your thing, you can also head to the Sisters Market in Coburg on Saturday where you may want to (gulp) start stocking up for early Christmas presents.  I hate last minute shopping in December when things start to get crazy and I'm the most tired so I try to do my shopping during the year (or online but make sure you give yourself enough time for things to be delivered).  The Fine Design Market at Manningham City Square has also clocked up a year and that's being held on Sunday from 10 am - 3 pm.  I've not yet made it to either design market but they both look good.

Image via Heritage Fruits Society
Finally back onto Spring, for something a bit different - Petty's Orchard in Templestowe is holding its Blossom Festival on Sunday.  For $5 entry (cash only) - you can bring along a picnic to eat from 2 - 4 pm where hundreds of apple trees will be in full bloom.  There'll also be full tours of the orchard and coffee and tea will be served.  Sounds like a wonderful sensory experience if you can get there.  There is also an organic shop and cafe (with outdoor playground) at Petty's Orchard and last I heard they were also looking for a new shop staff member.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Back on deck

It's been a while.  I'm hoping to regularly start posting again as of this week now that school holidays are over and I've managed to (almost) catch up on work for my lovely clients Avant Card and The Light Factory Gallery as well as celebrating son number two's birthday party.  I'm also feeling a bit sore today after starting boot camp this term on my quest to get fit and healthy for summer.  I will have a new local profile this Friday and there's a lot happening as we head into the final months of the year.  I can't believe I'm already starting to talk about Christmas!
Barista action at Red Cup Cafe - Box Hill
Speaking of events, I did take Thomas to a kid's birthday party at Fizz Kids over the weekend in leafy Mont Albert.  There was no coffee of tea on offer so I scooted to Red Cup Cafe in Box Hill which was pumping - another great cafe in the suburbs with more of an inner city feel.  The barista was moving so fast that she is just a blur in my photo!  Great Genovese coffee and I loved the takeaway service station for customers where you help yourselves to lids, sticks and sugar.

More on local happenings later this week - I promise!