Thursday, December 19, 2013

Feliz Navidad

I am going to sign off for Christmas here on this very hot December day.  I went out for a final pre-Christmas celebration last night with some ex-work colleagues to MoVida Aqui in the city and had a great night.  Mr Rosanna and I have been to the original MoVida in Hosier Lane a couple of times but this was my first experience of the much bigger space at Movida Aqui - up the stairs and right next to their brother bar in Paco's Tacos with open air tables, smaller inside tables and bar tables as well as the more private group tables down the back past the kitchen.

Image via MoVida website
The menu is largely the same as MoVida with yummy Spanish individual and shared plates, the service was excellent - tightly run and seamlessly executed given we were in the earlier 6 - 8 pm dinner slot.  There were people everywhere getting right into the festive spirit and my friends and I retreated to the very groovy Paco's Tacos roof top bar for drinks after we finished dinner.
Image via Pacos Tacos website
We also wandered through Bourke Street Mall on our way home and even at 10pm at night, the city was buzzing with people of all ages out on the street, buskers playing music, queues of people looking at the Myer Christmas windows, workmen doing last minute jobs and even a couple of fire engines and bemused firemen parked right in the middle near the tram tracks.  It was not only looking, but also feeling, a lot like Christmas.

I made the mistake of taking the freeway home forgetting about The Boulevard Lights which are on every night from 8 - 11pm until Christmas where you can expect long delays if you take the Burke Road exit or the Lower Heidelberg Road entry point - take the back streets people if you do go!

I'm gearing up for another busy year next year not only continuing to work for Avant Card and The Light Factory Gallery but also with the gorgeous Rina Chia at Take 2 Markets - exciting stuff!  Plus possibly a couple of other smaller projects in the design and education fields - I will reveal more next year.

Whether you are having a staycation, going up country, down to the beach, interstate or (lucky you) overseas for Christmas, I wish you a peaceful, restful and joyous Christmas break spent with the people closest to you and I look forward to catching up with you online (or in the flesh!) in the New Year.  It's time to breathe...Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The long wind down

I'm not sure about you but I have started winding down the past week or so.  I've still got a bit of work to finish off for the year but I can actually feel the difference physically in my body - a sort of long exhale of relief and surrender to the year that's been.  I hope it's been a good one for you - this more introspective Year of the Snake.  People close to me have suffered from setbacks, illnesses and disappointments of various kinds this year so I am hoping the Year of the Horse - a more fast-paced, galloping year- is kinder to them in 2014 and that they continue to be kind to themselves.
Image via Hugh Mackay website
I've started reading The Good Life by Hugh Mackay who asks the question: What Makes a Life Worth Living?  I'm not even half way through yet but it has been interesting reading - the whole notion of looking to achieve wholeness as a person (and therefore letting ourselves fully experience the light and dark in all our lives) rather than seeking happiness per se.  He believes the good life is defined by our capacity for selflessness, the quality of our relationships and our willingness to connect with others in a useful way rather than the sum of our security, wealth, status, postcode, career success or level of happiness.  It's an interesting premise and perhaps something to keep in mind when contemplating goals or resolutions for the New Year.

I'm feeling a lot better after completing 10 weeks of boot camp and taking Chinese herbs all of this term.  It's actually been the first school term this year I've not been sick despite a succession of late nights and being the busiest I've ever been so go figure.  Mr Rosanna attributes it to the exercise while I know my herbalist would say it's the Chinese medicine - irrespective of what it is, it's nice to end this year feeling a lot healthier, fitter and stronger than I have felt most of this year.

While I'm on a philosophical note, I also wanted to list the top 5 regrets people have about life when confronting death according to Australian palliative carer Bronnie Ware, which you may have previously read about, but as a refresher and something else to think about over Christmas, the New Year and beyond, here they are again:

I wish I'd had the chance to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me

I wish I didn't work so hard

I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings

I wish I'd stayed in touch with my friends

I wish that I had let myself be happier

I have to say they have made me reappraise my life and how I choose to live it.  How about you?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Cool Yule

Have you finished (or started) your Christmas shopping yet?  I'm on the tail end of it all and feeling relatively under control - it's the two lots of Christmas and other extra-curricular concerts/events from having one child at school and one at kinder that are killing me!

I wanted to post on a few things today.  There are a number of markets on this weekend and next - the Sisters' Market at QV starts today and is a good one if you're in the city this weekend and next.  The Lonely Hunter (formerly Blackbird Market) Market is on tomorrow in Fitzroy and closer to home, the Ivanhoe Makers Market is being held next Saturday 21 December and is a good one for last minute gifts - I am hoping to drop into this one.  It's a shame it's not on this weekend as you can pick up some lovely things for teachers while school is still on.
Image via The Melbourne Shop
For the more parochial like me (and if you have have overseas or interstate friends), I love some of the tres cool goodies that are available from The Melbourne Shop by Lumbi and Make Me Iconic.  If I'm ever going overseas again in the near future, I'd be taking some things from these shops as presents and cool souvenirs - something a bit different from a stuffed koala bear.
Image via Make Me Iconic
Locally, it all starts happening as well this weekend with Carols by Candlelight being held for the first time in Flintoff Street (opposite WaterMarc) in Greensborough tomorrow afternoon/evening (after being cancelled last year due to inclement weather), and the Boulevard Lights in Ivanhoe start tomorrow night and run until Christmas (although it doesn't get dark until 9pm when you can really see the lights in all their glory).
I've still been celebrating with friends and went out with the school mums to Bomba Restaurant in Burgundy Street Heidelberg (not to be confused with Bomba in the city which is a different restaurant).  It's Italian and they do a special shared plate menu for groups of more than 8 people and had very generous serves as well as also catering for special dietary requirements (i.e. gluten and fructose-free) - I also assumed the Bomba they were referring to was Sophia Loren - photos of which feature on their wall.  The food was good aside from some of the meat being a little on the fatty side so it's a place I'd go back to again and maybe try a la carte.  Speaking of indulgences, my lovely client Margot Tasca from The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham dropped my Christmas present off to me yesterday - some handmade fine chocolates from Cacao which I look forward to eating over the festive period!  It's a good thing I've started running again....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh Lord

I'm suffering from Monday-itis today after having had a big weekend...well, as big a weekend you can get with kids.  And I can finally reveal where I took Mr Rosanna for his belated birthday dinner - the latest hipster hot spot Saint Crispin in Smith Street, Collingwood - it's named after the Patron Saint of cobblers, tanners and leather workers - a statue of which sits over the entrance door as you leave.

And yes, it was pretty awesome so I did well in choosing somewhere new.  It's got great street presence - classy yet more informal than your average fine dining establishment.  Yes, they still have cloth napkins and change over cutlery between courses but there are no tablecloths and it's definitely a more relaxed attitude to dining.  It was pumping on Saturday night - lots of young and older bright things all dressed up and a few group tables adding to the mix.  The bar area is also a great place to sit and have a drink with friends.
Mr Rosanna looking pretty happy
Mr Rosanna and I loved it - was great to go somewhere that definitely felt happening and the later 8.15pm session meant they dimmed the lights and pumped up the music so it was pretty atmospheric. The food matched the ambience - we both went three courses (note that if you choose premium options as Mr Rosanna did - the individual dishes have additional costs to the standard $60 per head).  Mr Rosanna went the marron for entree and the wagyu beef for main (which was absolutely sublime if you're a carnivore).  I went for the spring salad and swordfish.  We shared the chocolate and mango/coconut dessert options along with espresso coffees.  A nice touch was the amuse bouche (complimentary appetisers and digestifs) at the start and end of our meal along with bread and butter.

My only criticism, which is a personal thing, was that is was really loud.  At one stage, Mr Rosanna and I were yelling at each other across the table competing with the music, the sound of the open kitchen and staff as well as a number of very merry diners laughing their heads off.

Oooh yeah...was a fun night but I am feeling the effects of having gone out Friday night, Saturday night as well as yesterday afternoon to our neighbourhood street party which crept into evening.  The festivities have begun!  Hope you had a great weekend.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Four seasons

Our weather is so schizophrenic at the moment, I'm hoping Melbourne's real summer does start to happen soon!  In the mean time, I just wanted to mention a couple of local happenings.  Given the rain and the cold, it's timely that Helen Webster who I profiled recently on Miss Rosanna is holding her annual sale at Ivanhoe Uniting Church, 19 Seddon Street in Ivanhoe from 3 - 5 pm this Saturday and it sounds like there are bargains to be had if you like beautiful, quality accessories.  You may even catch me there along with Mr Rosanna's mum.
Image via Macleod Village
The Macleod Village Christmas Fair is also being held on Saturday from 10 am - 3 pm and given the weather promises to be a lot nicer than today, it will be a lovely day out for the family.
Image via Lightly website
Finally on Christmas, I did want to put out a bit of round up of online sites if you're not currently clicking and collecting or visiting malls and markets.  If you're into homewares, art and design, then there are some lovely things to be found at Lark, Lightly, Hard to find and Temple & Webster.  If you have a Moroccan fetish like me, try Metroscope or Kulchi.  For Art Deco, visit Deco Heaven, Fabrile, Online Antiques and Prism Lighting.  For jewellery, as an alternative to Tiffany, try E.g.etal for unique handmade Australian pieces.  I always think beach and outdoor gear and games/activities make great Christmas presents as well as subscriptions, memberships and gift vouchers for experiences or donations/volunteering for charity to also remember there are many people out there who are suffering at what should be a very joyous time for all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Modern love

Get me to the church on time...modern love.  It's not only a great name for a song, it's also the name of the exhibition currently showing at Bendigo Art Gallery which I am hoping to visit again next year some time and they have had some blockbuster shows with a leaning towards fashion over the past few years.
Image via Bendigo Art Gallery
Closer to home, the Darebin Art Show at Bundoora Homestead Art Centre starts tomorrow and runs until 16 February next year.  It is an acquisitive biennial visual arts and craft show with awards to the value of $10,000 as well as a People's Choice award open to local artists who live, work or learn in the Darebin municipality.
Sarah Faulkner The business at All Nations 2011 - Darebin Art Show
And speaking of modern, the Robin Boyd Foundation is holding a Public Open Day on Sunday 8 December showcasing six 'Courtyard Houses' designed for inner city sites with the closest one being 'White Lodge' in Camberwell - tours are self-guided and tickets need to be pre-purchased - this is one for modern architecture and design lovers.  While I'm on the topic, architecture and design writer Stephen Crafti takes four Architour tours per year as well as customised, private tours if you are so inclined.  Closer to home, if you're a lover of mid century architecture check out local interior designer Renae Barass' blog Banyule Modern.  She is due to pop out a baby soon, so it may be a little while between updates.

I'll be back tomorrow with some weekend happenings.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Three, two, one...

She's a warm one today!  I can't believe there's just over three weeks until Christmas although having ventured out yesterday morning to Westfield Doncaster, maybe I can.  It was a little crazy in the car park and I must admit, malls are not really my thing these days.  In fact, I find the over consumption of all things at Christmas time a bit overwhelming and as I get older and more discerning (or so I like to think), I have started to re-consider what, and how much, I buy.  It's probably the first year I've started to buy both new and old (vintage, second hand) as gifts for not only Mr Rosanna but my extended family as well.
Image via The Big Design Market
Speaking of shopping, I did want to mention that a number of local artisans and designers are now selling their wares at Made at Montsalvat - a truly lovely idea for Christmas.  And both the Big Design Market at the Royal Exhibition Building and the Fine Design Market in Manningham are also on this coming weekend.  I've had some recent dealings with Simon Obarzenek (a friend of a friend and also a talented fine art photographer in his own right) who runs the Big Design Market and they've got some great local designers on board in this, their second year.  I hope to pop my head in on Saturday if I get a chance.

Mr Rosanna and I have had a very celebratory weekend with family birthdays on and it's been nice to get out and about locally for a calming Japanese lunch at Momoco Sushi in Heidelberg as well as a more raucous dinner last night at Pacific Seafood BBQ House (a place my dad has previously taken me to) in Victoria Street, Richmond - a new experience for my two young boys - it's also cash only if you go and they don't do dessert or sweets of any kind.  More tomorrow!