Thursday, January 30, 2014

Galloping in

Wow - it's been a big day for me with my youngest child starting school - the end of an era and the dawning of a new one.  It seems fitting that a brand new Chinese New Year starts tomorrow - the Year of the Horse - a more outwardly focused, fast-paced, energetic 'yang' year so hold onto your bootstraps!  You may like to read more about what it's all about on Shelly Wu's Chinese astrology blog here.
There is also a lot happening around Melbourne for Chinese New Year and my fellow blogger and Asian Australian Joyce Watts has done a great round up of all activities here, in her blog Mel: hot or not - the decisive guide to Melbourne.  Whether you choose to stay in the burbs or venture into the city, there are lots of activities going on.
Melbourne Chinatown image via Wikipedia
Both sides of my family have hospitality backgrounds and I spent a large part of my childhood growing up frequenting family restaurants in Chinatown - one of which is still run by my Uncle George.  My paternal grandfather came here for the 1956 Olympics as a chef and both my dad's older and younger brothers are chefs while my maternal grandfather was the first Chinese Justice of the Peace in Melbourne and his father is buried at Melbourne Cemetery.  The Chinese are found in all four corners of the world - maybe that's where I get my sense of adventure :-)

While it's going to be a hot one, Mr Rosanna and I are going to take our chances and take the boys into the city this weekend for their first experience of Chinese New Year and to see the dragon 'Dai Loong' and lion dances parade up and down Little Bourke Street.

I love the other Chinese tradition of sweeping out the front of your house to welcome in the new year and invite positive energy into your life.  Kung hei fat choy!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Afternoon delight

Greetings!  I hope you had a great long weekend celebrating all things Australian.  I think I spent most of mine eating at BBQs and watching the kids play on the slip and slide in the back yard so it doesn't really get any more 'Aussie' than that!
Jam and Cream cafe (interior)
In what's left of this week, I am trying to work as well as get children ready for school.  While shopping for school shoes (which I have previously posted about here) at Shu Way in Orr Street, Heidelberg Heights, I finally got to check out Jam & Cream cafe which is right next door and has been there for a while now.
Scones with Jam & Cream (geddit?!)
What a charming, little 50s oasis it is!  From the mint green retro bike and wooden photo booth out the front to the gorgeous sweet treats on display (and to buy) at the front counter to the pink caravan out the back (which can be booked for parties), it is a little girl's (and boys!) paradise - someone with a great imagination and sense of detail and whimsy has put a lot of love into the place.  We loved everything about it from the pink lemonade served in mini glass bottles with paper straws to the pinwheel sandwiches, mini sausage rolls and of course, the deliciously light and fluffy scones that are served with jam and cream.  I also loved the scrabble letters used as table decorations (I am a writer!), loose leaf tea and the floral chinaware and retro cutlery.
And the pink caravan out the back!
I spoke to Tara behind the counter who told me they'd only re-opened today and I was lucky to get a table without booking.  Tara must be a busy lady, as she also has kids and runs another Slovak/Eastern European restaurant in Collingwood.  I'm glad I finally got to visit (it is closed on Mondays) and I will return with friends.

I'll be back later this week - Chinese New Year is coming up and I will also have my very first local profile for the year up on Friday.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Allez!

Mr Rosanna and I went to the Australian Open last night to see the Federer vs Tsonga match.  I actually caught the train in to Flinders Street before meeting Mr R at the bar at Movida where we managed to grab a quick bite to eat and got the waitress behind the bar to choose our dishes for us.  Such a fantastic vibe in the city with the tennis on, and with so many people from all over the world here in town - it seemed fitting to eat Spanish food and then go and see a Swiss man play a French one.  There was a free tram shuttle service to the Tennis Centre which we took advantage of as the evening was quite cool and it gets windy.  I also grabbed a takeaway coffee once we entered the grounds before we took our seats along with 15,000 other people.  Given it was a long 45 minute wait to enter the Rod Laver arena, that ended up being a good idea.  We got our seats just as the sun started to set in the sky.
And while Tsonga in the end was outclassed and outplayed by the always cool, calm and collected Federer (he is like a Swiss watch - all precision), the off court antics of the crowd were just as entertaining as the on court gladiatorial display.  There were numerous and very vocal French people in the audience who intermittently called out, "Allez!" or "Allez Jo!" trying to give their fellow countryman some support.  They also had a sense of humour, singing their song versions of "Your serve is on fire" (Your sex is on fire) and "Hey Jo" (Hey Jude).
Particularly funny were some of the Australians in the crowd who also responded to "Allez!" with "Yoplait!", "How much do you want it, Jo?", "Dig deep!" and my personal favourite, "Show us your baguette Jo!".  Yes, seriously entertaining.  I love how the Aussies always favour the underdog but Federer deserved his win as the better player on the night to which he received a standing ovation.  It really is a great day, or night, out and Mr R and I were reflecting on what a great sporting city Melbourne is as we walked out of the Tennis Centre and past the MCG to Jolimont station on our way back home.  We are lucky to live here!

Friday, January 17, 2014

I'm melting...

Is it hot enough for you?  I distinctly remember complaining about the lack of warm weather just a couple of weeks ago - Melbourne is so extreme and for anyone who doubts we are undergoing climate change, they only have to look at our weather history to know it's very real.  Last summer was the hottest summer on record here and we also had two of the hottest months ever.  It makes me glad to live in a community with lots of parkland and trees but also glad not to live too far out near bushland with the threat of fire.  I reckon there'd be record crowds also going to places like WaterMarc and Aquarena.
Image via WaterMarc website
I've spent the past week hunkering down indoors in the mornings trying to work in the heat with kids at home but I won't complain as we've had my in-laws to escape to in the afternoon who have a pool and a house with air-conditioning.  Apparently fan sales are up 1000 percent with beach towels and bathers also selling like hot cakes this week.  Mr Rosanna and I have tickets to the Australian Open next week so I'm glad the weather will be cooler all round for both the poor players and the spectators.  It still staggers me to see people (often tourists) baking themselves under our sun without tops, sunscreen or hats.  Our weather is fierce here people!
Image via Aquarena website
I've also spent most nights this week watering my garden and seeing most of my neighbours on the street as the weather has cooled down - it's the really lovely thing about local communities.  Mr Rosanna and I were out last night attending an information session - he is about to undergo a major career transition and we are both exploring our options this year including further study, travel and different kinds of job and career opportunities.  I also have a goal to do a fun run of some kind and have been trying to up the running while boot camp is closed over January - I'm still nowhere near as fit as I'd like to be but something is better than nothing - as my trainer says it's about consistency!

I hope you have been staying cool - I've got some new interesting local profiles to put up this year (including some blokes!) and there's always a lot happening locally - my children's primary school has almost tripled in size the past few years so there are a lot of new people moving to Banyule in particular and a population boom going on which has changed the mix of people in the area in a good way.  I'll be back next week - have a great weekend!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Catching a dream

Well a happy new year to you!  I hope you had (or are still having) a great break and enjoying the real summer that is now upon us.  While Mr Rosanna and I have once again had a staycation here in Melbourne, we've enjoyed the slower pace of life, the chance to catch up with lots of friends and family and do a few things around the house.  Both of us are now back at work but dreaming of our next adventure...one which involves passports so stay tuned for further news...
Image via Harklo
While I didn't really buy anything aside from Christmas presents, this hand made dream catcher from Harklo caught my eye over the festive period - something beautiful but also a motif and inspiration this year for me - chasing dreams.  Son number two's kinder teachers gave all the kids mini dream catchers as their graduation presents which I thought was such a lovely sentiment (and locally, you can find some at Bulleen Art and Garden) but this is the year for me where both my children will finally be at school, in the one place at the one time, so it's a big milestone for me personally and for our family - lots of changes ahead.
Image via Houzz
Over the break and because of the better weather, Mr Rosanna and I were inspired to do some more home improvement and the houzz app is definitely worth checking out for ideas - we are dreaming of adding an indoor/outdoor bar from the kitchen out to our deck similar to the above but time, and money, will dictate whether we ever end up doing it.  In the meantime, it's nice to dream as it's way down the list of priorities! Sometimes I feel like all we do is throw money at our place and I'm sure I'm not the only one for those of you who are also homeowners, or aspiring to be.

With summer time in Melbourne, it's been great to get out and about in the sun when it finally appeared.  For families, it's always easy to catch a train to Flinders Street and venture across the road to Fed Square or Southgate - we did both one Friday afternoon with the kids.  The highlight for me was seeing Mr Rosanna get pulled into Fed Square's street performer's main act which was very funny- heh heh!  We also grabbed a bite to eat at the newly renovated (and now located on the 3rd level) Blue Train cafe at Southgate.  I loved the very romantic love locks on the bridge over the Yarra River which copy the love locks seen on two Paris bridges - Pont des Arts and Pont de L'Archeveche in France.
With my two best friends, we also took the chance to check out the relatively new Little Big Sugar Salt cafe in Victoria Street, Abbotsford last weekend.  That's right, in the heart of Little Saigon, and you wouldn't even know it was there right on the corner of Lithgow Street as of course, there's no sign outside.  The kitchen was manned by an all male staff line up at the front bar area the day we visited and there are two rooms behind - one with another communal bar table with stools and the other with three or four small tables and banquettes plus one shared toilet!  Yes, it was all very cosy and very Gen Y (there's a 'selfie station' in the toilet from which you can take photos of yourself in the mirror) but still a great place to go to for yummy food - the menu has just changed over and all the latest superfoods are on it - acai, quinoa etc.
A dodgy pic of me at The Luwow
Finally, Mr Rosanna and I had a date night out last Friday night at The Luwow in Fitzroy which has been there for a couple of years now.  Think kitsch tiki bar complete with live hula girl shows on Friday nights and go go dancers which accompany the bands in the band room on the right (the cocktail bar is on the left) and you might get the picture.  We were there to see our friend Craig's reggae/ska band Shantytown do their thing and we had a great night dancing along with a very mixed crowd of rockabillies, rude boys and girls and even a couple of skinheads - it was something really different.  There were a lot of women wearing animal print with eyeliner and big hair - it was great fun!  I also loved the Hawaiian girl swizzle sticks and obligatory paper parasols in their cocktails.

The heat is on this week so I hope you are staying cool - it's great to be back and I'm glad you're with me for the ride.  Perhaps we can all share some adventures together this year.  Here's to 2014!