Friday, February 28, 2014

Local Profile - Nikki Ellis

It's great to know we have our own version of Michelle Bridges in Rosanna with personal trainer Nikki Ellis.  She is one of those incredibly talented people who juggle a multitude of different roles and I can attest to her amazing physique having met her in person - all the more inspiring given she is also a parent.  Did I mention she's stylish and creative as well?  Read on for more about the lovely Nikki or 'Cinchy' as she's known to her clients.
Name: Nikki Ellis
Occupation: Personal Trainer
Lives/Works: Rosanna
How long have you lived/worked here? I have lived in Rosanna for 7 years and worked here for 3 1/2 years.
Describe what you do:
I run a small boutique personal training business from my home, along with my wonderful colleague Lauren Borschmann.  We work primarily with women - and particularly women a lot like us!  Busy, working mums who are time poor but want to feel and look fit and healthy and feel better in themselves.  Lauren and I both have degrees is human movement so also tend to get a lot of physiotherapist referrals and work with women who want to train, but may have pelvic floor issues that have prevented them doing so in the past.

I also work at Victoria University as a lecturer in the College of Exercise and Sport Science, I do corporate speaking on health and fitness issues, and I am an independent distributor for Xango.

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
I love Rosanna!  I grew up in Auckland and then spent many years in Melbourne's West.  I enjoy Rosanna Parklands, the ease of getting around, the fact that we are still only a short train trip to the city.  Most importantly though, because my business is home-based and I now train most of my neighbours (!) I love the sense of community we have here.

For more information:
facebook: cinchpt nikki ellis
Twitter: cinchpt
Instagram: cinchot
M: 0406 261 171  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


My boys have a Lego obsession and they're clearly not the only ones.  It was great to read about new social enterprise Inside the Brick at 70 Station Street Fairfield in The Sunday Age Extra article on the weekend and even more exciting was that I had booked a casual creative playdate there a couple of weeks ago.  My youngest son Will and his best friend had a great time there today and it's a fantastic set up - amazing vintage, limited edition/collector's pieces and current Lego displays on shelves all around the entire space, a retail store out the front, play tables set up with buckets of bricks and boards inside plus a bigger Duplo play area out the back for toddlers along with party table.  I had a chat to the founder and owner Rob Deakin who told me I'd joined 'the cult' that is Lego!  The only thing missing is a cafe but I ducked into Railway Place around the corner to the fabulous 15 Pounds cafe and grabbed some takeaway coffees (and later had lunch there), the cafe is also near the very stylish looking R.Macdonald horologist on the corner.

I'm also in the middle of helping out my client Avant Card with ideas to promote The Lego Movie being released on 3 April which my boys can't wait to see so it was also a timely visit.  The boys have been to a number of Lego-themed parties before as you'll see below and my clever friend Emma has some amazingly creative ideas here, here and here on her blog Frog, Goose and Bear.  She was the person who put me onto Inside the Brick in the first place - she also writes for Kidspot so is definitely a person in the know!

Speaking of parties, I just wanted to mention that the fabulous Nikki Ellis (or Cinchy as she's known) is holding a boutique design market of about 12 stalls (artisan jewellery, soaps, clothes, skincare and other gorgeous things) in her garden this Friday night from 7 - 9 pm at 52 Pyalong Avenue in Rosanna.  Please be mindful that this is her private home if you do go and let her know that Miss Rosanna sent you!  You'll soon be reading more about Nikki in this Friday's Local Profile.  St Anthony's Primary School at 52 Austin Street in Alphington is also holding a twilight fair from 3.30 - 8.30 pm on Friday night.  It's managed to snaffle Estelle Bar & Kitchen at 243 High Street Northcote as its major sponsor that will have an exclusive food stall there so I'm impressed.  There'll be food and drinks, entertainment, rides, books, a craft stall and silent auction - sounds like a great way to end the summer!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I've been sick the past two days with a virus courtesy of my kids but I have to say that the severity and duration this time has been a lot less than previously and I think partly due to the fact that I'm a lot fitter (I've been back at boot camp since school started).  Strangely enough, getting sick has coincided with me running out of my Chinese herbs so needless to say I'll be back to the Rosanna Traditional Chinese Medicine Centre next week.  I really do think it's made a difference health-wise over the past 6 months.  And a reminder to those of you who have kids or work with kids and/or the elderly, get a flu shot next month!  I managed to catch the flu in March last year so I'll be lining up for that one.

Image by Paola Balla, Detail: Tidda Murrup
Original photograph by Rosie Kilvert
I wanted to mention a number of different things today.  Firstly, Diverse/City: Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Melbourne opens this Thursday at The Light Factory Gallery and should be a great one to see.  Curated by Katrina Gubbins, the aim is to incite conversation surrounding contemporary Aboriginal art in Melbourne and the show features the work of 6 individual artists and one art collective including Paola Balla, Megan Cadd, John Duggan, Mick Harding, John T. Patten, Jamie Thomas and artists from the Baluk Arts collective.  The show runs until Sunday 30 March with the opening being held this Sunday 2 March from 2 - 4 pm.  Entry is free.
Secondly, nice to see Burgundy Street in Heidelberg get a mention in today's Age Epicure with G&G Deli at No 48 (serving breakfast and lunch daily and dinner on Fri & Sat nights), All'antico Trattoria (Southern Italian food) at No 94 and Lime Fresh Produce (fresh fruit & veg and high end groceries) at No 155 Burgundy Street all being featured.  Epicure also listed this year's award winners for The Age Good Food Under $30 and in the north-east, Dainty Sichuan in Box Hill won Best New Restaurant, Yong Green Food in Fitzroy (which I have been to) won Vegetarian of the Year and stalwart Moroccan Soup Bar in North Fitzroy won Hall of Fame.  While it's not in the north-east, I did go to the very groovy Touchwood in Bridge Road, Richmond a couple of weeks ago with the girls for brunch and it was excellent - great food and service.  I had the mixed whole grains (above) for breakfast which included quinoa, freekeh, wild rice, rocket, toasted almond, chai-soaked raisins, cumin yoghurt and a poached egg - delicious!  You can't book so ask for a table back right near the kitchen if you go with kids like we did.  

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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All that jazz...

So I went to the first Red Shoes Network event of 2014 last night and it was interesting.  I'm actually reserving judgement until I go to the next event in April (on personal styling and your personal brand) as I was a bit tired and frazzled yesterday after entertaining son number 2 all day, taking son number 1 to a music lesson and then getting dinner and lunches done before I walked out the door without having dinner myself.  It's never fun going to an event on an empty stomach (and feeling a bit flat)  and not allowing yourself any transition time to move into a different role that most of us juggle.  I will say that the demographic was older than what I was expecting, more 50+ women although given the founders of the organisation are also in that bracket, it was understandable.  The presentation and format of last night's event were also different from the launch event held last year according to other women who had been to both events.  I think the highlight for me was meeting the very interesting Nikki Ellis (otherwise known as 'Cinchy') - who runs her own boutique personal training business based in Rosanna and who recognised me from this very blog.
Image via
Anyway, a bit of a round up of weekend events for you.  The weather's turned a bit cold but Summer 
Sounds - Free Music in the Park at Macleod is on tomorrow night while on Saturday, besides White Night Melbourne, the Eltham Jazz, Food & Wine Festival starts.  If you're after a market, the Monty Farmers Market is also on tomorrow while on Sunday, my friend Rina Chia is holding a special Take 2 Market (vintage clothing pop up market) at the Dan O'Connell hotel which sounds like a good idea if it is a bit cold outside.

I'll be back next week!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Enterprising women

I love how empty spaces can be transformed into something more creative these days with the advent of pop up shops, temporary installations and other events.  Locally, the Greensborough Comes Alive Project has taken under-utilised and vacant shops in the main shopping strip and opened these up for use by creative enterprises and independent local initiatives.  My friend textile artist Teresa Bennett is one of three talented locals who's taking part and the grand opening for her studio, gallery and shop TSB Textiles is this Friday at 6.30pm at 77 Grimshaw Street in Greensborough.  Email: if you're wanting to attend.  Teresa has also sold her gorgeous wares at the Ivanhoe Makers Market for a number of years.
Image via Greensborough Comes Alive Project
I also wanted to mention another service for home based businesses if you're interested in moving into a shared space above Australia Post in the Bell Street Mall in Heidelberg working with start up businesses, freelancers, micro businesses and other professionals who would otherwise work from home and benefiting from free business mentoring and training.  Banyule digiDECL: digital co-working space is opening its doors soon and currently taking membership enquiries - or call 9499 9100.  It's a great idea if, like me, you work largely on your own from home and looking to share office space, infrastructure, network and creatively exchange ideas with other like-minded people.  This project is run by the Darebin Enterprise Centre and supported by Banyule Council.
Image via Banyule digiDECL
Finally, I picked up a flyer for local women's networking organisation Red Shoes Network at the Banyule Women in Business lunch last year and will be toddling off to their first event of the year tomorrow night after they were highly recommended by a former client of mine who also attended the Women in Business lunch and subsequently went to the first Red Shoes event held last year.  I'll let you know what it's like.
Red Shoe movement image via Red Shoes Network

Friday, February 14, 2014

Local Profile: Parkhound

I love the fact that the barriers to entry these days, in terms of start up businesses and social enterprises, are relatively low.  If you've got a great idea, then it's worth exploring whether you can monetise it or not.  Parkhound is the brain child of two local guys Robert and Michael - I also love the fact that it's win win for all involved if you've ever experienced the frustration of driving to a venue and being unable to find a park.  Read on for more about Parkhound.
Parkhound Co-Founder Michael Nuciforo
Names: Robert Crocitti and Michael Nuciforo
Occupation: Owners/Founders of Parkhound
Live/work: Fitzroy
How long have you lived/worked here? Lived for years, worked for 6 months

Describe what you do:
We started Parkhound ( in August last year.  Parkhound is an online marketplace that connects drivers looking for parking with local property owners who have spare parking spaces.  So if you have a garage, car port, drive way or allocated parking space that is available for people to park in, sign up now.  It's free to list and you can make hundreds each month from leasing out your empty parking space.
Parkhound app
We decided to start Parkhound after circling around East Melbourne on the hunt for parking near the MCG before an AFL game.  As we circled the streets, we noticed something.  As we drove past parked car, after parked car, after...empty space that required a parking permit, there were dozens of empty garages and driveways right near the ground.  It then hit us.  Wouldn't it be great if we could just knock on someone's door and ask to park at their place for a small fee?

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne's north-east:
It has the perfect mix of great food, gelati and unnecessary beards!  It is a great area for us to build up an exciting company culture where we can work hard and also enjoy ourselves on a Friday night before we go home to family.  There is a lot of creativity in the area and we find a lot of design inspiration in the local streets.  The location is close but not too close.  This means it's really easy for us to get around for meetings without being stuck right in the heat of city traffic.

For more information:
Twitter: @Parkhound2013

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Loving it

Ok.  So it's Valentine's Day tomorrow and you know what? Mr R and I don't celebrate it.  And neither do most of our partnered up friends.  We'd rather be romantic when the mood strikes us and given we celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary this year - this will be the day we do something special (I hope!).  I've always found it a bit naff to go to a restaurant on Valentine's Day and be absolutely crowded in by every other couple celebrating the day - it all feels a bit too manufactured and sheep-like for me.
Image via Greensborough Town Centre
But with romance in mind, you may like to head to Greensborough tomorrow from 3.30 - 11pm for the inaugural Greensborough Food and Film Festival being held outside WaterMarc.  If the weather stays as humid and balmy as today, it would make for a lovely evening spent outdoors and even better, they are showing Despicable Me 2 - I am still loving listening to Pharell Williams' song 'Happy' from the movie.  Speaking of outdoor films, Gnomeo and Juliet is screening at the Anthony Beale reserve in Greensborough on Saturday night as part of Banyule's Movies on the Move.  Lucky Greensborough residents!
Bowl: Interrupted 2013-2014, reclaimed crate timbers by Stephen Ziguras
I popped my head in to Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe today to see the Create from a Crate exhibition and it's amazing to see how resourceful the participating artists are and how beautiful and creative they have been in terms of taking wooden crates that usually end up in landfill and transforming them into functional pieces and art forms.  While there was a lot of furniture including some beautiful lamps, tables and stools, I particularly liked some of the more inventive pieces such as the above bowl, outdoor herb garden, clock and harp and even a wooden pinball machine.  There is also a People's Choice Award and I voted for local artist Andrew Potocnik's Still life piece Pod X - more a work of art than something functional.
Image via Supergraph Facebook page
Also just a plug for a couple of other creative events on this weekend, the Ivanhoe Makers Market is on at the Livingstone Centre in Ivanhoe on Saturday and the first three day Supergraph: Contemporary Graphic Art Fair 2014 is being held from tomorrow at the Royal Exhibition Building which includes the work of local artist Rona Green.  I love the yellow!  I'll be back tomorrow with a local profile.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A sustainable future

With all the doom and gloom in the papers about car makers closing down and bush fires, it's reassuring to remember that the sun still rises each day and most of us will live long and happy lives.  I'm not sure what the future will bring for our country but I think we will reinvent ourselves as we compete in what is now a global economy and market - difficult situations can inspire ingenious solutions.  And I still think Australia is the lucky country in so many ways.
Image via Sustainable Macleod
With that in mind, the Sustainable Living Festival is currently on and as part of this Sustainable Macleod is holding The Great Big Swap Day this Saturday 15 February at Macleod Park opposite the Macleod Village Shops.  From 11am - 1 pm will be The Giant Vegie Swap where Macleod Vegie Swap and 8 other vegie swaps are combining to hold one big swap.  After lunch at the shops or picnic in the park, you're invited to participate in The Great Big Swap where you can swap your spare plants (please label) and cooking, gardening and sustainability books.  An auction of green services and items will be held at 3pm.  For details:
Image via Heide
Talking about inspiration, while the second White Night Melbourne is being held on Saturday 22 February, closer to home Heide Museum of Modern Art will hold Art By Twilight: Future Primitive this Thursday night from 6 - 9pm for an evening of creativity, conversation and live music for all you art lovers out there.  Tickets are $25 (less for concession/members), bookings are essential.  Heide has also recently changed its membership if you are thinking of joining.  Finally, speaking of lovers, there are a few other events on this week, including Valentine's Day if you choose to celebrate it (or not) - more later this week.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Living together

Hello there - are you glad it's Friday?  I am!  It's been the end of the first week of a new routine and pace of life for me although I always think it's not until summer's over in Melbourne that we really get into things.
Image via Murundaka Cohousing Community
I just wanted to mention there's an Open Day at Murundaka on 22 February in Heidelberg Heights.  Murundaka is a residential 'cohousing' community of 20 households based on a Danish concept that combines the independence of private dwellings with the companionship of communal spaces.  It is one of only four established cohousing developments in Australia where residents garden together, share bikes, cars and common meals, and collaborate to lower their consumption.
The Open Day will include workshops from other groups looking to set up new cohousing ventures in Melbourne and the entry fee ($50 or $40 concession and Sustainable Living Festival 2014 Big Ticket holders) includes panel sessions with members of Cohousing Australia, a presentation on community life by Lisa Moore and talk from the authors of the book Changing Gears, a tour of the 42 Bamfield Rd site, meet and greet with members of local groups Urban Coup and Banyule Cohousing, workshops, kids activities and vegetarian BBQ with produce from the communal garden.  Bookings are essential at
Image via
Speaking of living together, I also wanted to mention two new cultural organisations - the Hellenic Museum located at 280 William Street in the former Royal Mint building opposite Flagstaff Station, which is hosting Greek Treasures from the Benaki Museum in March and the first Islamic Museum of Australia, which is opening on 3 March at a former warehouse in Anderson Road, Thornbury.  While I'm on the topic of museums, there is the Chinese Museum at 22 Cohen Place off Little Bourke Street in Melbourne's Chinatown as well as the Immigration Museum located in Old Customs House, 400 Flinders Street Melbourne.  There is also an Indigenous Cultures Department at Museum Victoria and the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum.  Bunjil, the eagle or creator, is my favourite piece of public art in Melbourne and always reminds me of home.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Lucky finds

Son number two is home on Wednesdays at the moment so I took him to Miss Marie cafe in Rosanna for lunch today and was a little disappointed that the new Moroccan lamb burger special had been taken down this week!  Oh well.  It was still great and I have to say there must be a population boom on as the cafe was absolutely jam packed with mothers, babies and prams everywhere.
We ventured next door to the second hand shop and I just wanted to put out a little round up of op shops in the north east, which I go to.  Our friend Marsden from Muscle Shoals Second Hand Records reckons the CPS Op Shop Rosanna is the best op shop in Melbourne which is a big statement.  Mr Rosanna's cousin Tamsen reckons the Diamond Valley and St Andrews Anglican Op Shops in Macleod are pretty awesome for vintage clothing while I've picked up some cool things at Savers in Greensborough (go on Mondays when new stock hits the floor).  There's a new Savers store in Ringwood which apparently has even better clothes than Greensborough.
Given I work for The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham, I find myself always popping my head in next door at the Brougham Street Bazaar.   I did pick up a great retro desk lamp for Mr Rosanna's music studio the last time I was in there.  We also occasionally stop in at the Heidelberg Road Vintage Bazaar in Alphington which is chock full of different things from a variety of dealers.  And while I haven't been there, local blogger Trish Hunter has her vintage shop Hunter & Co. Vintage in Plenty Road, Preston.

As for me, today's lucky finds at the CPS Op Shop Rosanna were the vintage wooden Japanese Kokeshi doll for $2 and my Maneki-neko lucky cat for $1 - bargains (and now taking pride of place in various locations inside my house)!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Showcase is the first show for 2014 at The Light Factory Gallery in Eltham which opens tomorrow and runs until Sunday 23 February.  It celebrates the work of 20 different artists using all mediums and methods and the diverse collection includes painting and sculpture using different media from water colour to oil painting, pencil and ink to bronze, ceramic and recycled metal.
Nature morte by Ron Reynolds
The show includes some of the gallery's best known and most popular artists including Ron Reynolds, Darren Gilbert, Chris and Mary-lou Pittard, Kate Hudson, Jessica Page, Julian Bruere, Anthony Williams, Joseph Attard, Mark Roberts and Janet Matthews.  The official opening is this Sunday 9 February from 2 - 4 pm.  Entry is free and I'm excited to say that Showcase will be followed by the gallery's first ever indigenous art exhibition - Diverse/City which opens on Wednesday 27 February.  For more information click here.
Steve's vase by Kate Hudson
Speaking of art, my good friends at Banyule Arts and Culture are also holding the opening for Create from a crate competition and exhibition this Friday from 6 - 8pm at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe Parade, Ivanhoe.  The show highlights the inherent beauty of wood and will be opened by Damien Wright, President of the Victorian Woodworkers Association.  I love that this show also focuses on sustainability and re-cycling.  Create from a crate runs from 8 - 22 February and Hatch is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 am - 5 pm.  Entry is also free.  For more information visit: or
Image via Discover Banyule 

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Of dragons and lions

Mr Rosanna and I braved the heat and the crowds on Sunday and took the boys on their first ever trip to Chinese New Year.  While they have been to Chinatown before for yum cha, this was a truly exciting event!  With kids, these things are planned like a military operation so we knew the nearby undercover car park we were going to drive into from Lonsdale Street before we hot footed it down a very narrow alley from Lonsdale Street to Little Bourke Street.

Before we even got into my uncle's restaurant Golden Orchids (named after my aunt who has sadly passed away), we were assailed by the sight and sound of dragons and lions parading down Little Bourke Street accompanied by the man with the fan, firecrackers and drummers accompanying the parade from the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne (CYSM) which was founded in 1968 and of which two of my cousins are members.  Wow!  I'd forgotten how exciting it is seeing it for the first time, which is what happens when you have kids, you get to experience your whole childhood all over again (hopefully the good parts).

We ran into some kinder friends and then off we went indoors into air conditioning to have lunch.  But it wasn't long until the first lion of the day came to the door and we got the chance to get up close and personal with him as he pranced and danced and ate the cabbage (and took the money in the little red packets!).  My boys got so close they got to touch the lion and were also blessed by the man with the fan scaring away all the evil spirits.  They had a great time - as did Mr R and I.

We watched one final dragon twist and turn before we took our chance to leave before the boys got too hot and bothered.  I did love the big Buddhist shrine that was also set up off the street where people were paying their respects to Buddha and making wishes for the new year.  The Year of the Horse has begun...